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Editor in Chief: Gino De Vecchis (Italy) Associate Editors: Cristiano Giorda (Italy), Cristiano Pesaresi (Italy), Joseph Stoltman (USA), Sirpa Tani (Finland)


Scientific Committee: Eyüp Artvinli (Turkey), Caterina Barilaro (Italy), Giuliano Bellezza (Italy), Tine Béneker (Netherlands), Andrea Bissanti (Italy), Gabriel Bladh (Sweden), Laura Cassi (Italy), Claudio Cerreti (Italy), Giorgio Chiosso (Italy), Sergio Conti (Italy), Egidio Dansero (Italy), Martin R. Degg (Great Britain), Giuseppe Dematteis (Italy), Karl Donert (Austria), Maurizio Fea (Italy), Franco Farinelli (Italy), Maria Fiori (Italy), Hartwig Haubrich (Germany), Vladimir Kolosov (Russian Federation), John Lidstone (Australia), Svetlana Malkhazova (Russia), Jerry Mitchell (USA), Josè Enrique Novoa-Jerez (Chile), Daniela Pasquinelli d’Allegra (Italy), Bruno Ratti (Italia), Roberto Scandone (Italy), Lidia Scarpelli (Italy), Rana P.B. Singh (India), Hiroshi Tanabe (Japan), Angelo Turco (Italy), Joop van der Schee (Netherlands), Isa Varraso (Italy), Bruno Vecchio (Italy).



Secretary of coordination: Marco Maggioli (Italy), Massimiliano Tabusi (Italy) Editorial Board: Riccardo Morri (Chief), Sandra Leonardi, Miriam Marta, Victoria Bailes, Daniela De Vecchis, Andrea Di Somma, Assunta Giglio, Daniele Ietri, Matteo Puttilli

Sponsoring Organizations:

Dipartimento di Scienze documentarie, linguistico - filologiche e geografiche

UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI TORINO Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Educazione

Association of European Geographic Societies

With the support of:





Vol. 1, Year 2, June 2013


ISSN online 2281-5694 ISSN print 2281-4310


Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), Vol. 1, Year 2, June, 2013

J-Reading is an open online magazine and therefore access is free. It is however possible to make a subscription to receive the paper format

Copyright Š 2013 Edizioni Nuova Cultura - Roma ISSN online 2281-5694 ISSN print 2281-4310 ISBN 9788868120900 DOI 10.4458/0900

All rights reserved including translation into other languages. This journal, or some part of it, cannot be reproduced in any form without permission.


Gino De Vecchis

Some keywords of J-Reading Sirpa Tani

The environments of learning environments: What could/should geography education do with these concepts? Giuseppe Dematteis, Cristiano Giorda

Territorial values and geographical education Adrian Manning

A personal journey through the world of GIS, teaching and development of students’ core knowledge Jüri Roosaare, Ülle Liiber

GIS in school education in Estonia – looking for an holistic approach Cristiana Martinha

GIS presence in Geography textbooks – a highway to spatial thinking development? Stefania Bertazzon

Rethinking GIS teaching to bridge the gap between technical skills and geographic knowledge Paolo Carafa

Teaching and Researching with the GIS: an archaeological story Pamela Cowan, Ryan Butler

Making geography mobile: using location aware technology to improve student performance in physical geography Angela Caruso

Special didactics of geography

5 7

17 33

47 57


73 85



Commentary on Participatory Video



Mapping society: an ingenious but today outdated map



Reflections on geography, its teaching and the possible function of Geoparks


TEACHINGS FROM THE PAST Elementary Geography: Objectives and Curriculum


REFERRED PAPERS FOR REMOTE SENSING Maurizio Fea, Lisetta Giacomelli, Cristiano Pesaresi, Roberto Scandone

Remote sensing and interdisciplinary approach for studying volcano environment and activity


Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 5-6 DOI: 10.4458/0900-01

Some keywords of J-Reading Gino De Vecchisa a

Dipartimento di Scienze documentarie, linguistico-filologiche e geografiche, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy Email:

In the editorial of No. 0 of the Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography, which came out in December 2012, the aims and objectives were defined of this new online sixmonthly magazine that from its very first issue has been met with great appreciation and encouragement. We therefore continue with the course undertaken then with enthusiasm and energy, going full steam ahead with this new number. The aim to contribute to the construction of a well-established link between didactics and research, deemed as strategic for the development of the discipline, (as already highlighted at the launch of J-Reading), is at the basis of this new editorial project, hinged on the coherence and balance between the scientific aspect and the educational-didactic one, which are both fundamental as they give a sense and meaning to the information, skills and knowledge. J-Reading first all aims at the international diffusion of the results obtained in this specific context. The comparisons and exchanges of information among researchers, lecturers and experts in the various countries constitutes the backbone to pursue new goals and to foster an essential advancement of research. Within the Copyright© Nuova Cultura

context of the aims and objectives of J-Reading at least three keywords are worthy of particular mention: international comparison, interdisciplinarity and geospatial technologies. The first makes it possible to evaluate, from a comparative point of view, the state of the art relative to the teaching of geography at the various levels of school and university. It is important to build whole frameworks on common aspects: the main themes of teaching, progress in geographical research to efficiently translate into teaching practice, interdisciplinary possibilities, didactic continuity among the different levels of teaching, links between secondary school and university, access to advanced technologies, teaching aids and instruments able to facilitate research and geographical education, university education of teachers etc. All this makes it possible to better highlight the strong as well as the weak points characterising the teaching of geography in various countries. Many analyses and in-depth studies in such a comparative viewpoint have been realised in this, but there is still a great deal of work to be done; J-Reading sets out to offer a significant contribution by uniting many expert opinions. In this sense the magazine – and the Italian Association of Geography Teachers (AIIG) which promotes it full-heartedly – needs Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Gino De Vecchis

the maximum collaboration with the other associations (national and international) and with other similar magazines, above all those that deal with the didactics of geography (for example, the close collaboration with the Review of International Geographical Education Online - RIGEO). It is with this spirit that the Italian Association of Geography Teachers is greatly involved in the fourth EUGEO Congress (Association of Geographical Societies in Europe). The Congress, entitled: Europe, what’s next? changing geographies and geographies of change, will be held at Sapienza University of Rome (5-7 September 2013). In particular, a whole session is foreseen which will be entirely dedicated to didactics and which promises to be at a significant level: Geography education’s challenges in changing geographies. In this session the AIIG is involved as promoter of the event (and will coordinate the opening and the first time slot), together with EUROGEO (which will take the floor in the second slot, with its president Karl Donert) and the Commission of the International Geographical Union, which deals with didactic (Commission on Geographical Education, whose President, Joop Van der Schee, will chair the meeting in the final session). In fact, the reciprocal support to achieve these common objectives is fundamental, even if everyone is working according to their own specific aims and objectives. It is necessary to give vigour and visibility to topics that require a network of relations and a common force in joint projectmaking and for this reason the idea has been to gather together a number of contributions in No. 2 of J-Reading. Secondly, as was seen in No. 0, J-Reading sets out to foster interdisciplinary collaborations as much as possible to reach results, and these require joint planning among the various sectors of scientific research. In this number for example, as well as geographers, geologists, archaeologists, experts in geotechnologies and geomatics have given their precious contribution. Interdisciplinarity is fundamental

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to search for common pathways to pursue together and create strong relations; the enrichment is reciprocal. Thirdly, the magazine also sets out to take into consideration the different orientations and approaches of contemporary geography; in this context the geospatial technologies like GIS and remote sensing should be mentioned separately. In fact, the use of dedicated instruments, digital cartography software, the analytical interpretation of satellite images represent a crux of a geography in progress, the scope of which is to unite theoretical-methodological skills with practical-operational ones. In this perspective the support of ESA (European Space Agency) and Esri (Environmental Systems Research Institute) represents a definite step of great importance. Both in didactics and research the rigorous use of such instruments represents added value that is now unavoidable and international exchange in this constitutes a keystone to foster high level progress. It is in fact necessary to find innovative contexts of research and to promote laboratory applications where to merge a multiple series of skills to show the true face of geography. In order to go ahead at the level of actual usefulness it has been decided to start new types of columns, putting them alongside those already proposed in No. 0 (The language of images and Teachings from the past) other features, such as: 

“Referred papers for remote sensing”, which thanks to an interdisciplinary approach aims to give useful guidelines, in terms of research and didactics, on the importance and use of remote sensing, each time examining a different theme, for which specific examples are given;

“Mapping societies” in which geopolitical issues can be dealt with, by means of the language of geographicity;

“Geographical notes and considerations”, where notes and comments coming from experts and associations can merge.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 7-16 DOI: 10.4458/0900-02

The environments of learning environments: What could/should geography education do with these concepts? Sirpa Tania a

Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland Email:

Received: April 2013 – Accepted: May 2013

Abstract Geography is an academic discipline which does not have one single central concept, and therefore defining geography precisely has always been difficult. In this article, the aim is to explore two concepts often used in geography but seldom seriously defined: various meanings of “environment” and “learning environment” will be explored. Three different perspectives on the environment will be introduced: first, seeing it from outside, as an entity; second, seeing it from inside, as experienced by an individual; and third, understanding it as a culturally and socially produced phenomenon. Learning environments are then discussed through four different perspectives: the educational context where learning is situated, specially planned environments for learning, the learner’s local environments and virtual environments. In the conclusion of the article, it is highlighted how the versatile character of environments and learning environments as seen through the lens of geography has the potential to build bridges between geography and educational sciences. Keywords: Environment, Learning Environment, Spaces for Learning, Local Environment, Virtual Environment

1. Introduction In recent years, some themes which have traditionally been integral parts of geographical education have raised academic interest among educational scientists as well. These include, for example, the importance of the spatial context in education. The approach has been called placebased education (e.g. Sobel, 2004; Gruenewald and Smith, 2008; Barratt and Barratt Hacking, 2011), and in this approach the role of outdoor Copyright© Nuova Cultura

education, especially in natural and rural environments, has been highlighted (e.g. Gruenewald, 2003). The thread of this discussion in connection with educational sciences and geographical education has been traced, for example, by Morgan (2011), Israel (2012) and Hyvärinen (2012). Morgan (2011, p. 86) has noted how place-based education has emphasized the importance of participatory, collaborative and inquiry-based approaches in order to explore the real-world issues relevant Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Sirpa Tani

for the local context of the education. Traditionally, the immediate environment that surrounds students has been considered as a natural starting point for geography teaching. Home, the neighbourhood and other everyday environments have been regarded as spaces which a person can observe and experience on a daily basis, and thus attach unique meanings to them. For geography teachers, this seems like a fruitful situation in which education can be linked with the students’ own experiences. Another increasingly popular theme, both in educational sciences and in geography education, deals with different learning environments. The concept of a learning environment has many meanings, and the way it is used varies considerably based on the context of the topic and the agents who use it. In this article, my aim is to investigate the various meanings which have been attached to learning environments. Multiple meanings of the concept can easily create confusion but, from the viewpoint of geography, also interesting material to study. I will argue that by paying more attention to the meanings given to the environment and learning environment, we can obtain methodological tools which could help to analyse the aims and contents of educational texts.

2. What are the key concepts in geography? “What is geography?” is a question that many geographers and geography students find surprisingly difficult to answer. In the book Key Concepts in Geography the editors start their preface by comparing geography to certain other disciplines which have one central concept (e.g. “society” in sociology, “living things” in biology, and “matter” and “energy” in physics), while geography has many (Holloway et al. 2003, p. xiv). Taylor (2009) has investigated some of the many listings of geographical concepts and collected her findings in order to make this confusing situation visible and easier to analyse. Some of her listings are shown as examples in Table 1.

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Leat (1998)

Holloway et al. (2003)

Jackson (2006)

Cause and effect Classification Decision-Making Development Inequality Location Planning Systems

Space Place Landscape Environment System Scale Time

Space and place Scale and connection Proximity and distance Relational thinking

Table 1. Some examples of the important concepts in geography listed by researchers (modified from the table presented by Taylor, 2009).

Table 1 shows how geographers have listed geography’s central concepts in various ways. Jackson (2006) as well as Holloway and colleagues (2003) include “space”, “place” and “scale” in their lists, while Leat’s concepts are somewhat different. One reason for this can be found in the differences between the contexts where these concepts have been introduced: for example, Leat (1998) approaches geography as a way of thinking and therefore emphasises different concepts than, for example, Holloway and colleagues (2003, p. xiv), whose basic aim is to help the readers to understand “the use (and abuse) of these concepts within the discipline of geography”. Taylor (2009), in the context of planning geography education, suggests a division between substantive and second order concepts, the first referring to the content of the discipline while the second is linked with the “the ideas used to organise the content and to shape questions within a discipline”. Second order concepts introduced by Taylor (2009) are “diversity”, “change”, “interaction”, “perception” and “representation”. This short introduction to the central concepts of geography reveals many issues which can cause confusion both among geographers themselves and curriculum planners. What do geographers actually study? What are their core messages that should be delivered to people outside this academic discipline? And, last but not least, what issues should be included in the geography studied in schools?

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Sirpa Tani

3. What do we mean by “environment”? This article will focus on the meanings of “environment” and “learning environment” in geography education. The concept of an environment, even though it may seem like one of the core concepts of geography, is missing from two of the three lists shown in Table 1. Despite this, I argue that it is one of the central concepts in geography but, because of the various ways the word is used in everyday language, in different disciplines and also in geography, its essence is often dismissed. My aim is thus to introduce some of the many ways of understanding its content. Earlier, I wrote about this theme in the context of environmental education. Then I realized how, even when the concept of an environment is inevitably the most essential in environmental education, its content has seldom been defined; instead the emphasis has been put on how the environment has been dealt with in educational practices (Tani, 2006). In that context, I also described three approaches to “environment” which have been used in different disciplines (see also Suomela and Tani, 2004). I will describe these in the following paragraphs. The first dimension can be called the “environment as an entity”. In the natural sciences, “environment” is often treated as something that is detached from the observer. It is thought that knowledge can be obtained via careful observation and scientific research, which often means using different techniques of measurement. In this approach, “environment” is thus seen as objectified and neutral. Even though this idea is typical in the natural sciences, it can also be found in many other fields; for example, in studies of environmental economics the environment is treated as an entity that can be measured by its economic values (Tani, 2006). Ingold (1993) has compared this dimension with the astronaut’s perspective on the globe; seeing from a distance and being detached from it as an outsider, an astronaut as a seemingly neutral voyeur can observe the environment as a whole. The second dimension covers approaches where an environment is understood as always subjective and unique, defined by the person who explores it. This dimension can be called the “environment as experienced” (Tani, 2006). Copyright© Nuova Cultura


It is thought that the observer is the centre of an environment which cannot be observed from outside without attaching personal meanings to it. Subjective experiences, a sense of place, aesthetic values and sensory observations of the environment are typical features of this approach, which can be seen in the studies of many humanistic sciences. Environmental psychology, although often applying (natural) scientific methods, places the individual’s relation to his/her environment into the focus of the studies. Humanistic geography, originated from the 1970s, approaches environments from this angle. Ingold (1993) has described this dimension as thinking of an environment as an individual’s lifeworld – or as spheres where life is situated and which are perceived from within. Even when Ingold’s (1993) conceptual divide between “globes” (seen from outside) and “spheres” (experienced from inside) works well when different approaches to “environment” are investigated, I would still like to add one dimension, that of the “environment as socially and/or culturally constructed”. This dimension highlights social and political power in the process of creating meanings for the environment and, in doing so, combines personal value-laid experiences with scientific observations, seeing them from the perspective of representations which are created from the environment in question (Tani, 2006). This third dimension is typical of environmental policy and environmental protection, to name just some examples. “Environment” here is understood as our common environment, including personal but also shared – and often conflicting – views on how it should be treated. The above-described three dimensions of the environment can all be applied in geography education and be used as conceptual “tools” for the analyses of geography curricula. By identifying them in curricula and, for example, in geography textbooks, we can investigate how geography is comprehended in different contexts and what kind of image of people-environment relationships are being created in the school context. All of these dimensions are needed in order to enhance students’ knowledge, personal interest and willingness to act in an environmentally responsible way. This leads to the role of education for sustainable Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Sirpa Tani

development (ESD) in the context of school geography. Therefore, I want to raise the question of how geography education is related to the ideas of different environments in the context of ESD and environmental education. What type of environment should we talk about then? In education for sustainable development, all four dimensions of sustainability should be taken into account. These are ecological, economic, social and cultural sustainability. These dimensions also include different approaches to “environment”. The ecological environment, which usually in schools is explored as “nature”, is just one of the many dimensions of the environment. The majority of the young people of today grew up in cities, and for them, their everyday (urban) environments should also be explored when environmental education is hoped to have some effect on enhancing their growth as environmentally responsible citizens. The ecological environment is thus not enough, but also built, social and cultural environments should be integral parts in geography teaching. By paying attention to these, the multifaceted character of sustainability can be explored.

4. What kinds of meanings are attached to the concept of the learning environment? I have tried to clarify some of the many meanings of the concept of environment in this article. By this overview I have attempted to show how there is no shared view on how to talk about “environment” in geography or other disciplines. This can make it difficult to conduct multidisciplinary research studies because finding a “common language” is not easy. The same problem is also reflected in the geography taught in schools. Next, I will continue by exploring the concept of a learning environment, which has also been used in many, often controversial, ways. In order to obtain an overall idea of its most common meanings for this article, I started by making a Google image search of learning environments. The first results are shown in the print-screen image presented in Figure 1. Twenty-seven different images of learning environments were shown on the display, most of them representing either pedagogical models of learning or the structures of virtual learning environments.

Figure 1. Print-screen image after a Google image search with the keyword “learning environment” (copied on 8 March 2013). Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Sirpa Tani

Three of the images are photographs, attaching the idea of a learning environment to the context of a classroom. What is missing are any images of physical environments outside the school context. For a geography educator this is a confusing observation: is it really so that when we speak about learning environments, we exclude all the physical and social environments which are not present on the screens of computers or inside classrooms? Is this understanding of learning environments also shared by geographers? After this confusing image search result, I wanted to take a closer look at the ways in which learning environments can be defined, especially in the context of geography education. Next, I will introduce some of the many dimensions which can be attached to the idea of learning environments. I have selected four aspects of the concept: the educational context where learning is situated, specially planned environments for learning, the learner’s local environments, and virtual environments. These will be explored in the following sections.

5. Formal, informal and nonformal environments for learning Many researchers of education have been interested in studying learning not only in formal but also in informal and nonformal contexts. Formal learning refers to education which is practised in institutions especially planned for the purpose of teaching and studying; the most obvious examples of these are schools. Learning is organised there by authorities, and the aims, contents and the hoped outcomes of education are normally defined in curricula, which are applied in teaching. Informal learning refers to learning that occurs in environments and contexts which are not specially planned for that purpose. Nonformal learning, on the other hand, occurs in a formal setting, but it is not formally planned or recognized. The widely used definitions of these three concepts are published by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop, 2003). The difference between informal and nonformal learning has been seen as arbitrary on many occasions, and there is thus no unified

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understanding of these concepts (a concise analysis of the different meanings of the concepts has been presented by Colley et al., 2002). From the viewpoint of geography education, formal, informal and nonformal learning can be explored on the basis of their relation to the physical settings where learning is situated. This means that learning environments could be divided into two aspects: learning which occurs in environments which are specially planned for learning, and learning which happens elsewhere. This kind of definition would mean that formal and nonformal learning environments could be explored together.

6. Specially planned spaces for learning Physical learning environments refer to spaces which are planned and used as special places where teaching and studying occurs. Schools and especially classrooms can be regarded as representatives of this type; they are built environments which have been designed for the purposes of learning. Traditionally, classrooms were designed as “tight spaces” in which the furniture could only be arranged in one way: the teacher’s desk was placed in the front of the classroom, while the students’ desks were arranged in rows so that the students faced the teacher and were able to follow teaching without interruption. Contemporary classrooms are instead designed so that the space configuration is easy to change. The room plan thus allows varied learning methods and activities, and students’ and teachers’ roles are more flexible. This type of “loose space” reflects modern conceptions of learning, which are based on the students’ active role in the knowledgeconstruction process (about tight and loose spaces, see Franck and Stevens, 2007). Certain elements of a classroom design, for example, the use of colours and light, connectivity and flexibility, can have a positive impact on students’ learning. This makes it clear that designing learning spaces should be taken seriously when new schools and other spaces for formal education are planned (Barrett et al., 2013). The students’ role in designing spaces for Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Sirpa Tani

learning has been acknowledged, and in many cases students have been included as active and competent agents in planning both indoor and outdoor spaces in schools together with adult professionals (e.g. Koralek and Mitchell, 2005; Clark, 2010; Dudek, 2011). In these collaborative projects, the aim is to make “places for children” (special places planned for children, often in educational institutions and in the context of organized hobbies etc.) that could also become “children’s places”; that is, spaces which children feel that they belong to and which have some special meaning for them (about places for children and children’s places, see Rasmunssen, 2004). Specially planned spaces for learning can also be found outside the school buildings, for example, in science centres, museums, nature schools and botanical gardens (Peacock and Pratt, 2011; see also Braund and Reiss, 2004). These can be used as sites for learning in the context of formal curricula or as places where children and young people learn during their free time, for example, in the company of their parents or friends.

7. Local learning environments Students’ immediate environment, which has been part of their everyday lives, has traditionally offered a natural starting point for geography teaching especially in primary schools. Following the traditions of Jean Piaget and other developmental psychologists, geography educators have based their instruction first on the environments which have been closest and thus are the most familiar to their students: students’ routes from home to school, their classroom and the school yard are perhaps the most common examples of environments from which studying geography has begun. After these, more remote and larger areas offer interesting objects for study and exploration. Local environments have been popular starting points in geography teaching for many reasons. I will give one example from Finnish history: during the first decades of the history of independent Finland in the early 20th century, studying the local environment during the first school years was regarded as a way to construct Copyright© Nuova Cultura

students’ local identities, which would later work as a base for a national identity. Later, after society became more open and multicultural, the importance of a national identity based on people’s low mobility and therefore their strong sense of place has diminished. After a period when international interaction was seen as the opposite of local studies (this was the case in Finland in the 1970s), the value of both local and global perspectives has been recognized in geography curricula for schools. Continuing with my Finnish example, the next problem with the inclusion of local neighbourhoods in geography teaching arose from the rapid urbanization of society during the 1960s and 1970s and afterwards, people’s increased mobility, and increased immigration since the 1990s. Old ideas of Finnish identity, people’s sense of place and their close relation to natural environments were no longer relevant, and this caused some confusion, for example, in geography education. The majority of Finnish children and young people of today grew up in urban environments, which should be taken as an integral part of teaching geography. Despite the broad changes in society, urban neighbourhoods have not gained any central position in school geography – not even when it is recognized that it would be motivating for students to be able to bring their own everyday experiences into school and thus build links between these two spheres of life (see e.g. Béneker et al., 2010). In the age of globalization, young people gain first- and second-hand experiences from places which are located far away from their everyday surroundings. Increased tourism has made it easier and cheaper to travel, and thus many children travel abroad during their holidays with their families. In addition to this, the increase of information flows through different types of media – television, movies and most powerfully, the Internet – has brought remote places close to children’s daily lives (Tani and Robertson, 2013). In this context, geography educators must rethink how to deal with students’ local environments in their teaching: what type of role should these everyday spaces have in geography lessons?

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Sirpa Tani

8. Virtual learning environments The concept of a learning environment is often understood as a synonym for technological or virtual learning environments, which are Internet-based computer programs designed for teaching and studying online. For example in Finland, the Internet started to be used in teaching in the middle of the 1990s, and after that, “learning environments” have most often been connected to these technological innovations. The use of this concept is varied and dependent on the context. Most often, though, as Figure 1 shows, it is connected to technological environments – online platforms – where the active role of learners and interaction with other users of the same virtual spaces are central features. Knowledge is seen as constructed in collaboration with others, and the teacher’s role is more like an enabler and colearner than any pedagogical authority. In geography, interactive online learning environments are often used in universities and increasingly also in schools. “Virtual classrooms”, which are specially planned platforms for educational purposes, are widely used, but also social networks, which develop “online learning communities” where all the participants have an active role in developing the community for their shared purposes, are increasingly popular. In addition to these, geography educators have developed new ways to use technology in teaching, especially with regard to cartographic skills. Information and communication technologies (ICT) in teaching have gained much attention worldwide, and research on teaching and learning applications on school and university levels (e.g. Drennon, 2005; Bednarz and van der Schee, 2006; Johansson, 2006; Gryl et al., 2010; Lukman and Krajnc, 2012) has been widely reported. Some researchers have paid special attention to the potential of collaborative learning in virtual settings, while others have put an emphasis on the learning outcomes of projects where Internet-based learning environments have been applied. In recent years, more attention has started to be paid to opportunities for combining children’s everyday observations and experiences in their daily environments by using Copyright© Nuova Cultura


GIS and online learning environments in teaching (e.g. Favier and van der Schee, 2009) and in planning (e.g. Wridt, 2010). In this case, “learning environments” have begun to encompass technology-based cartographies with real-world environments where students’ everyday environments have been brought into schools and connected with virtual environments. This means that the boundaries between formal and informal learning environments have been crossed and, at the same time, different dimensions of environments (physical, social and cultural, as well as the ideas of “globes and spheres”) have also been brought together.

9. Conclusions: Learning geography in different environments My aim in this article has been to make an overview of the concepts of the environment and learning environment from the perspective of geography education. This type of descriptive analysis can be criticized for its shallowness, which I am well aware of and ready to admit. Despite all the limitations of the analysis presented here, I hope that I have been able to show how complex and multifaceted these concepts are. “Environment” can without a doubt be seen as one of the many core concepts of geography, but what we mean by that concept varies remarkably. This often causes some confusion and misunderstanding; for some, “environment” means foremost the ecological environment (nature), while others may connect it to all kinds of living environments (nature, the built environment, the social and cultural environment etc.). In the context of geography education and curriculum planning, these different dimensions should be kept in mind. The concept of learning environment also holds the same type of mixture of different meanings. In this article I have explored four different types of meanings for it, the location of learning, specially planned environments for learning, the learner’s own – often local – environment, and virtual learning environments. All of these can be explored from the perspective of geography education, and all should be part of the school subject. The first

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definition highlights the importance of the physical context in which learning occurs and enables the investigation of the meanings of students’ everyday environments in education. For geography education, this could mean an increasing attention to the geographies of children and young people (e.g. Holloway and Valentine, 2000; Aitken, 2001; van Blerk and Kesby, 2009; Holt, 2011) and the potential to make students’ lifeworlds – their experiences and interests – an integral part of geography lessons. The second definition pays special attention to environments where young people spend a great amount of their time – the schools – and highlights the idea that students should have a say in planning and designing learning spaces which are meant for them. For geography education, this could offer interesting links to planning and participation. When students participate in designing their learning spaces, they can learn to evaluate their own and other people’s environmental and aesthetic values and negotiate with other users of the same space. The third dimension presented in this article – local environments – has traditionally been the most commonly used in geography education. Depending on the context and the content of geography courses, local environments can be explored, for example, from the viewpoint of their physical features, land use, the residents’ opinions of them or from the students’ own perspectives by investigating their observations, experiences, attitudes and values. These are just some of many possible examples. The fourth dimension (virtual learning environments) has gained the most attention in recent years in geography education. New virtual classrooms, social networking communities and ICT-based cartographic applications have been integrated into the geography taught in schools. Researchers of these fields have emphasized their potential to enhance the active role of students in studying and learning and to increase their motivation. Some studies have also shown the many obstacles still in the way from teachers’ reluctance to adopt new innovations, their limited ICT skills or limited access to these innovations. Overcoming these obstacles may take some time, but many studies already show the positive effects of bringing technology into Copyright© Nuova Cultura

geography classrooms. The popularity of new technologies and their applications in geography education have, despite their obvious potential, also brought some possible problems with them. For example, when curriculum planners, textbook writers and teachers become too eager to concentrate on ICT-based learning in virtual online environments, they can easily forget the “old-fashioned” everyday environments in which their students, nevertheless, live their lives. Fortunately, this does not have to be the case. As I have shown earlier in this article, students’ active role in studying geography can be enhanced in many ways: by taking their everyday experiences into account in geography curricula, by enabling their participation in planning the environments where they spend much of their time – both inside and outside the school, and by occasionally taking geography lessons outside the classrooms. New technologies can also take all of these “traditional” ways into account by combining students’ own experiences with the use of information and communication technologies and by encouraging them to share their ideas about their environments with others, both online and in physical geography classrooms. To conclude, I would like to emphasize the potential of geography as a discipline and as a school subject to help in understanding the multifaceted character of the concepts of environment and learning environment. Geography has always built bridges between physical and social sciences, which has added to these versatile understandings of “environment”. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the educational sciences have started to discuss place-based education in recent years, with practically no reference to geographical studies. Place-based education and studies of learning environments are research fields in which geography, with its multidisciplinary character, could offer a valuable contribution to education sciences. At the same time, geographers would be able to disseminate their research findings to larger audiences.

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References 1. Aitken S.C., Geographies of young people: The morally contested spaces of identity, London, Routledge, 2001. 2. Barratt R. and Barratt Hacking E., “Placebased education and practice: Observations from the field”, Children, Youth and Environments, 21, 1, 2011, pp. 1-13. 3. Barrett B., Zhang Y., Moffat J. and Kobbacy K., “A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning”, Building and Environment, 59, 2013, pp. 678-689. 4. Bednarz S.W. and van der Schee J., “Europe and the United States: The implementation of geographic information systems in secondary education in two contexts”, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 15, 2, 2006, pp. 191-205. 5. Béneker T., Sanders R., Tani S. and Taylor L., ”Picturing the city: Young people’s representations of urban environments”, Children’s Geographies, 8, 2, 2010, pp. 123140. 6. Blerk L. van and Kesby M. (Eds.), Doing children’s geographies: Methodological issues in research with young people, London, Routledge, 2009. 7. Braund M. and Reiss M. (Eds.), Learning science outside the classroom, London, RoutledgeFalmer, 2004. 8. Cedefop, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, “European inventory – Glossary”, 2003, 9. Clark A., Transforming children’s spaces: Children’s and adults’ participation in designing learning environments, London, Routledge, 2010. 10. Colley H., Hodkinson P. and Malcolm J., “Non-formal learning: Mapping the conceptual terrain. A consultation report”, Leeds, University of Leeds Lifelong Learning Institute, 2002 (also available in the informal education archives,© Nuova Cultura


texts/colley_informal_learning.htm). 11. Drennon C., “Teaching Geographic Information Systems in a problem-based learning environment”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 29, 3, 2005, pp. 385-402. 12. Dudek M., “Play in an adult world: Designing spaces with children”, in Foley, P. and Leverett S. (Eds.), Children and young people’s spaces: Developing practice, Milton Keynes, The Open University, 2011, pp. 73-88. 13. Favier T. and van der Schee J., “Learning geography by combining fieldwork with GIS”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18, 4, 2009, pp. 261-274. 14. Franck K. A. and Stevens Q., “Tying down loose spaces”, in Franck K.A. and Stevens Q. (Eds.), Loose space: Possibility and diversity in urban life, London, Routledge, 2007, pp. 1-33. 15. Gruenewald D.A., “The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place”, Educational Researcher, 32, 4, 2003, pp. 3-12. 16. Gruenewald D.A. and Smith G.A. (Eds.), Place-based education in the global age: Local diversity, New York, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2008. 17. Gryl I., Jekel T. and Donert K., “GI and spatial citizenship”, in Jekel T., Koller A., Donert K. and Vogler R. (Eds.), Learning with Geoinformation V – Lernen mit Geoinformation V, Berlin and Offenbach, Wichmann Verlag, 2010, pp. 2-11. 18. Holloway S.L., Rice S.P. and Valentine G., “Preface”, in Holloway S.L., Rice S.P. and Valentine G. (Eds.), Key concepts in geography, London, Sage, 2003, pp. xiv– xvii. 19. Holloway S.L. and Valentine G. (Eds.), Children’s geographies: Playing, living, learning, London, Routledge, 2000. 20. Holt L. (Ed.), Geographies of children, youth and families: An international perspective, London, Routledge, 2011. 21. Hyvärinen R., “Paikkalähtöinen kasvatus – mahdollisuus maantieteen opetukselle” (“Place-based education – possibility for

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24. 25.


27. 28.



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geographical education”; abstract in English), Terra, 124, 3, 2012, pp. 151-160. Ingold T., “Globes and spheres: The topology of environmentalism”, in Milton K. (Ed.), Environmentalism: The view from anthropology, London, Routledge, 1993, pp. 31-42. Israel A.L., “Putting geography education into place: What geography educators can learn from place-based education, and vice versa”, Journal of Geography, 111, 2, 2012, pp. 76-81. Jackson P., “Thinking geographically”, Geography, 91, 3, 2006, pp. 199-204. Johansson T. (Ed.), “Geographical Informations Systems Applications for Schools – GISAS”, Publicationes Instituti Geographici Universitatis Helsingiensis, A 141, 2006. Koralek B. and Mitchell M., “The schools we’d like: Young people’s participation in architecture”, in Dudek M. (Ed.), Children’s spaces, Oxford, Architectural Press, 2005, pp. 114-153. Leat D., Thinking through geography, Cambridge, Chris Kington Publishing, 1998. Lukman R. and Krajnc M., “Exploring nontraditional learning methods in virtual and real-world environments”, Educational Technology & Society, 15, 1, 2012, pp. 237247. Morgan A., “Place-based education versus geography education?”, in Butt G. (Ed.), Geography, education and the future, London, Continuum, 2011, pp. 84-108. Peacock A. and Pratt N., “How young people respond to learning spaces outside school: A sociocultural perspective”,

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Learning Environments Research, 14, 2011, pp. 11-24. Rasmunssen K., “Places for children – children’s places”, Childhood, 11, 2, 2004, pp. 155-173. Sobel D., Place-based education: Connecting classrooms & communities, Great Barrington, MA, Orion Society, Nature Literacy Series, No. 4, 2004. Suomela L. and Tani S., ”Ympäristön kolme ulottuvuutta”, in Cantell H. (Ed.), Ympäristökasvatuksen käsikirja, Jyväskylä, PS-Kustannus, 2004, pp. 45-57. Tani S., “Multiple meanings but limited visions: the concept of the environment in environmental education”, in Tani S. (Ed.), Sustainable development through education, Proceedings of the International Conference on Environmental Education Research Seminar (Helsinki, 14 June 2005), University of Helsinki, Department of Applied Sciences of Education, Research Report 268, 2006, pp. 3-13. Tani S. and Robertson M., “The everyday life of young people”, in Robertson M. and Tani S. (Eds.), Young people: Cross-cultural views and futures, Camberwell, ACER Press, 2013, pp. 199-210. Taylor L., “GTIP Think Piece – concepts in geography”, Geographical Association, 2009, Wridt P., “A qualitative GIS approach to mapping urban neighborhoods with children to promote physical activity and childfriendly community planning”, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 37, 2010, pp. 129-147.

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Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 17-32 DOI: 10.4458/0900-03

Territorial values and geographical education Giuseppe Dematteisa, Cristiano Giordab a

Professor Emeritus, Dipartimento Interateneo di Scienze, Progetto e Politiche del Territorio, University and Polytechnic of Turin, Turin, Italy b Dipartimento di Filosofia e Scienze dell’Educazione, University of Turin, Turin, Italy Email: Received: March 2013 – Accepted: May 2013

Abstract The paper sets out to adopt the geographical concept of territorial value in the context of geographical education. Particular reference is made to the idea of territorial education, which is proposed as a synthesis of the various types of education contextualised in geographical space. Starting from a recognition of the use of the concept of value in documents on geographical education, to then distinguish the specificity of the concept of territorial value, today used particularly in studies on local development, highlighting the characteristic of this that is most obviously linked to the geographical vision of territory and the relationships between human societies and environmental systems. Making the role of territorial education in geographical studies central allows the development of a specifically geographical approach, as it highlights the relationship between the knowledge of places, territorial resources and anthropic and physical features of territories with the life project of people and the planning that every community elaborates according to its own resources and vision of the future. Keywords: Territory, Places, Education, Territorial Values, Local Development

1. Introduction The paper deals with the educational perspective of Territorial Education, considering the role that the concept of territorial value can take on in geographical education and on the potential of the recognition and teaching of territorial values in the didactics of geography. The starting point of the Italian study on Territorial Education was the volume by Giorda and Puttilli (2011), who, with the contributions of twenty-six scholars, developed the hypothesis of reuniting the different perspectives of Copyright© Nuova Cultura

geographical education around the concept of territory1. 1

The reflection on Territorial Education starter off with the Convegno Nazionale “Educare al territorio, educare il territorio”, organised by the AIIG in Turin on 24 September 2011. The main objective of the conference was to develop the dialogue between disciplines and institutional actors at different levels: the meaning of territorial education and the role played by the various actors; the contribution of the different subjects; the inclusion of territorial education in the new school curricula; a comparison Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Giuseppe Dematteis, Cristiano Giorda

The territory makes it possible to represent the set of relations connecting individuals and the community to the conditions of their living environments and at the same time among them to different scales, from the local one to the planetary one. Territorial Education sets out to unite the objectives of the various forms of education (citizenship, inter-culture, sustainable development...) in a territorial dimension, rethinking and redefining them on the basis of the diversities of the places and the complexity of the geographical spaces. The attention thus moves from a separate set of educations, generally developed without sufficiently considering the national, ethnic and cultural diversities, to an educational perspective that bases its perspective on the recognition of the cultural, social, environmental, political and economic diversity of territories. The territory thus becomes the unifying concept to relate education and society, united before the challenges of sustainable development, inclusive and participative practices of citizenship, coexistence and coevolution of different cultures and ethnic groups, the decrease of inequalities and for the active and democratic participation of citizens in the care of places and planning for their future. In this perspective the idea of geography as an active social science emerges (Gerber and Williams, 2002), capable of uniting the skills linked to the analysis and interpretation of facts and issues to the capacity to propose solutions and develop projects for the future. The proposal of Territorial Education has received considerable attention and soon became part of the institutional debate on the Italian school curricula. In the most recent National Curriculum Guidelines for primary school and the first cycle of education2, it states that it is necessary to valorise “the territory as resource of the values, instruments and methodologies that are at the basis of this; the possible applications in permanent education and in informal training contexts; the integration of territorial education in public policies. 2 Published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic No. 30 of 5 February 2013. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

for learning” and that “The point of convergence (of geographical subjects) results in territorial education, understood as an exercise of active citizenship and in environmental and developmental education”. Territorial values are proposed as a concept making it possible to recognise both natural and cultural patrimonies and the potential resources of places, to assess them and refer to them for the valorisation of the territory in the context of the social construction of sustainable development (Dematteis, 2004), and of the practices of active citizenship and social cohesion of the multi-cultural communities. The first part of the paper contextualises the subjects of Territorial Education with respect to the international debate on geographical education, in particular identifying the references to the concept of value. The consideration is then developed of the most important subjects, objectives and instruments linked to the unifying perspective of Territorial Education. The second part links Territorial Education to the subject of territorial values more closely. The educational aspects of this are considered linked to their definition and evaluation, to the problem of territorial identities and that of development, in an attempt to highlight the usefulness of their inclusion in the context of geographical education.

2. From geographical education to territorial education Even if the considerations made in this paper are concentrated on the geographical debate of recent years, it is important to remember that since the time of its integration as an academic discipline geography has been recognised by numerous authors as an educational instrument to understand the world, to open the mind of the students from particularisms to the plurality of points of view, to contribute to the education of the citizen and to resolve problems linked to the development of the territory and the proper use of natural resources. The debate on geographical education had a long evolution; in recent years it finds its best Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Giuseppe Dematteis, Cristiano Giorda


known synthesis in the documents of the International Geographical Union. The International Charter on Geographical Education (IGU, 1992), which has considerably influenced debates and the transformation of the school geography curricula of many countries (Gerber, 2001; Stoltman, 1997), stresses quite specifically the idea that geographical knowledge must be considered in relation to its capacity to educate and deal with the changes and planetary challenges of the years to come through the knowledge and understanding of: 

locations and places in order to set national and international events within a geographical framework and to understand basic spatial relationships; major natural systems of the Earth (landforms, soils, water bodies, climate, vegetation) in order to understand the interaction within and between ecosystems; major socio-economic systems of the Earth (agriculture, settlement, transport, industry, trade, energy, population and others) in order to achieve a sense of place. This involves understanding the impact of natural conditions on human activities, on the one hand, and the different ways of creating environments according to differing cultural values, religious beliefs, technical, economic and political systems, on the other;

diversity of peoples and societies on Earth in order to appreciate the cultural richness of humanity;

structure and processes of the home region and country as daily action space; and

the challenges of, and opportunities for, global interdependence.

Here a number of references are clearly expressed which then became central in future considerations, like the idea of understanding in values: 

interest in their surroundings and in the variety of natural and human characteristics on the surface of the

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appreciation for the beauty of the physical world, on the one hand, and of the different living conditions of people, on the other;

concern for the quality and planning of the environment and human habitat for future generations;

understanding the significance of attitudes and values in decision making;

readiness to use geographical knowledge and skills adequately and responsibly in private, professional and public life;

respect for the rights of all people to equality;

dedication to seeking solutions to local, regional, national and international problems on the basis of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

The document then develops the subject of skills3, to explain that geographical knowledge can be used to identity and face real issues, linked to the spatial dimension at its different scales. The capacity of geography to take up the cultural challenges arising in the international debate is mirrored also by the topics developed in the following declarations formulated within the Commission on Geographical Education, dedicated to cultural diversity and sustainable development. This is the International Declaration on Geographical Education for Cultural Diversity, del 2000, and the Lucerne Declaration on Geography Education for Sustainable Development, undersigned in 2007. In the International Declaration on Geographical Education for Cultural Diversity, presented by Rod Gerber during the 29th International Geographical Congress (IGU, 2000), geographical education is called upon to tackle the issue of globalisation, defined by means of changes caused to the different scales 3

The subject of skills is particularly important in the Italian school, where the more recent reforms have given a greater relevance to the programming for skills. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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by the rapid development of the new information and communication technologies. Society, politics and economy seem to be increasingly interrelated, and before this complexity our attention is brought back to the usefulness of geographical knowledge in understanding cultural diversities, developing alternative points of view, changing lifestyles and therefore in producing operational answers to the challenges of the global society. In particular the relations are highlighted which are established not only between human and environmental systems, but also at different scales between places and larger and larger regional dimensions4, a very important premise to be able to develop the subject of citizenship education as a system of multiple links, referable to territories whose spatial dimension ranges from the local scale, of the community of belonging, to the planetary scale, which the considerations of scholars of other disciplines also refer to, particularly Edgar Morin (Morin, 1999). This is a further step forward towards the concept of geography as an instrument for the exercise of active citizenship, seen as the conscious action of subjects who are able to recognise the importance of cultural, environmental and social diversities which can be identified at the different territorial scales: local, regional and global. The rapid growth of the awareness of the risks linked to climate change and environmental degradation explains the need for a further document, the Lucerne Declaration on Geography Education for Sustainable Development (Haubrich, Reinfried and Schleicher, 2007), presented during the IGU symposium “Geographical Views On Education For Sustainable Development” held in Lucerne in 2007. In this complex structured document, which deals with the issues of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) 2005-2014, the authors develop the subject of the contribution of the geography to Education for Sustainable Development, rethinking the very structure of 4

“The spatial dimension that refers to the need for individuals to see themselves as members of multiple overlapping cultures at local, regional and global scales” (IGU, 2000).

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knowledge and the modalities of its development in the curricula. Even though not making many references to the concepts of place and territory, the Lucerne Declaration has the merit of starting from more important issues and from the establishment, obvious for geographers but not for everyone, of their spatial dimension. To speak of the geographical dimension of problems however implicitly refers to the concept of territory, which in this paper, following the Italian and French interpretation in particular, we mean in the sense of “Agencement de ressources materielles et symboliques capable de structurer les conditions pratiques de l’existence d’un individu ou d’un collectif social et d’informer en retour cet individu et ce collectif sur sa propre identité” (Lèvy and Lusualt, 2003, p. 910). And once again it is the regional and therefore territorial diversity that is highlighted in the statement that there can be no global agreement on how to interpret sustainable development: “It is a contentious issue since nations, cultures, groups, and individuals interpret the definition to suit their own needs. Thus, some emphasise economic sustainable development as they seek to enhance their consumption levels while others emphasise environmental sustainable development as they seek to conserve threatened species. Sustainable development and consequently education for sustainable development are culturally defined” (Haubrich, Reinfried and Schleicher, 2007, p. 244). The consequence of this argument is in fact the recognition of the diversity of territorial values, which cannot be standardised (or imposed) at different scales from those at which they are locally. If the relations between economy, nature and society need to be dealt with and rethought from an ecological point of view in the various local territorial systems of the planet, the concept of territory seems to be the one that best expresses the “variable geometries” of these geographical spaces. According to the issues dealt with, they may coincide with different regional areas, unite places to other places or separate them, continuously reshaping new geographical Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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contexts in which to be rethought. In the following paragraphs we will attempt to explain why the recognition and evaluation of territorial values can be considered a key skill of geographical education, also in relation to the goals of sustainable development. The consideration of geographical education today pinpoints two other very topical questions: citizenship and inter-culture. These subjects, which have become fundamental in the pedagogical agenda owing to their importance also in national and international policies, can be wholly related to the traditional idea, going back to the teaching of Kant, that geography educates the citizen of the world to an open mentality, decentralising perspectives from identity and local-policy narrow-mindedness. The idea is that geography can therefore supply the basis for social transformation (Wellens et al., 2006). The development of the new geographies of citizenship (Deforges, Jones and Woods, 2005) and more in general of the investigation of the spatial dimension of citizenship and its pedagogical implications (Gerber and Williams, 2002; Butt, 2011) have thus contributed to highlight subjects like the environment (Hayward, 2012), multiculturalism and social cohesion in the history and geography curricula (Faas, 2011).

3. Territorial Education and Place-Based Education If we divert the attention from geographical education to the field of education sciences we find ourselves before an extremely complex situation. On the one hand, as geographers, we can say that most of the studies on education do not consider the role of places in the education of human beings in any important way. On the other, we come across some theories and experiences that give considerable emphasis to the environmental context and insist on the need to personalise education according to the place in which it is carried out. Among these pedagogical trends, the experience of Place-Based Education is of particular interest, known also as the pedagogy of places and strictly linked to fields of

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education through experience, of environmental education and education for sustainable development. The relationship between a number of considerations on which Territorial Education and Place-Based Education is based is significant5. This approach, born in the context of education sciences, focuses on connecting the school environment with the community in which it is situated, considering the regional space where the pupils live as a primary source of learning resources (Smith, 2002). Studies of environmental psychology are referred to and concepts stressed that are used a lot in geography like sense of place (Semken and Freeman, 2008), focussing on the development of skills to resolve local problems, contextualised in the space of the community in which the schools are found. This pedagogical orientation is also referred to as “critical pedagogy”, concentrating the attention on the spatial aspect of the social experience (Gruenewald, 2003). The first considerations of Territorial Education also stress the role of the emotional experience and the care of places as a form of 5

It must be stressed that in the Anglo-Saxon literature the concept of place is in many aspects similar to what in Italy is understood as territory, while the term territory is less used and has a narrower connotation (Elden, 2010). In the traditional idea the territory coincides with a physical limited and controlled space: it thus refers above all to a political-administrative idea that defines the area that is occupied or claimed by an institution or a human community (Sack, 1986). This aspect is important also for territorial education, which is also understood as a social project, as an instrument for governance and therefore for policies concerning social cohesion and sustainable development (educate ‘the’ territory). But the concept has been adopted also in its broader and metaphorical sense, for which reason territoriality and therefore the scale of the territory being considered, can coincide both with very small local systems, with single places (e.g. The classroom, the school, the quarter, the village, the wood, the mountain), and with very big regional areas whose geometry and boundaries vary according to the point of view adopted (e.g. The Mediterranean, the Sahel, Tibet), ending up therefore by including the entire terrestrial space, understood as the territory of the human species. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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reappropriation of the living space by the community. In this case the role of the territorial system must however be stressed as a synthesis that combines intuition and rationality, and the recognition of the complexity of the worldsystem, for which reason the concept of territory cannot be limited to a local dimension only (Dematteis, 2011). Therefore, Territorial Education starts from geographical knowledge to reach active citizenship and thus the government, understood above all as a shared building project of the territory (Magnaghi, 2011). It is in this intentionality that the greatest links of Territorial Education to Place-Based Education are to be found, associated by the idea of fostering a cultural response to the processes that transform places in the era of globalisation, developing one part of children’s experiences by means of the local space: “Place-based or placeconscious education introduces children and youth to the skills and dispositions needed to regenerate and sustain communities” (Gruenewald and Smith, 2008, p. xvi). The distance between geographical education and Place-Based Education is well outlined by the work of Andrei L. Israel (2012). He highlights the risk that from a pedagogical point of view geography is considered uniquely as the context: “while the pedagogy itself is divorced from the geographic content” (p. 76). A placebased education without geographical knowledge, therefore, or one that develops assonances with geographical education without however knowing it and without dialoguing with it. Israel highlights the possible advantages of the integration between the approaches of PlaceBased Education and the geographical perspective directed at the promotion of social justice and sustainability, suggesting how this pedagogical approach can in turn show the ethical and political values implicit in the study of human geography. The Territorial Education perspective can be considered as a proposal of geographical education that attempts to build a structure for dialogue between education sciences and geography: it expresses the educational intentionality of geographical knowledge, reflects on the educational power of methods Copyright© Nuova Cultura

and instruments of geography, and emphasises the role of places and knowledge of places in human education, in people’s life project and in the future evolution of the human communities and the planet Earth. In the vision of geographical education, places take on a fundamental role as educational environments, but this is realised by means of the awareness given by the language of geography, its ability to conceptualise the relations between human and natural systems and to control the transformation of the territory by symbols. It is proposed therefore as an inclusive context in which the territory is at the same time seen as the subject and the object of education: education to the territory, therefore, but also education of the territory, understood as the social construction of the human community (Giorda, 2011).

4. Territorial education and territorial values At the basis of Territorial Education is the idea that the different types of education (citizenship, inter-culture, sustainable development, cultural diversities, health) find their spatial contextualisation in the territory. Every portion of the earth’s surface inhabited and recognised by a human community can be understood as a territory, at different scales. The most important aspect of the territory consists in its multi-dimensionality made up of a physical basis and one or more communities living in it and developing businesses and cultures, with a recognisable set of images, symbolic values, traditions, histories, products and representations that make it recognisable from the outside and guide foundation processes and identification from the inside. The geographical contextualisation of education makes it possible to consider the types of education not as separate courses but as integrated aspects in an educational end that finds its distinctive feature in the capacity to spatially contextualise problems, taking them to the most suitable scale in order to tackle them according not only to their diffusion, but also to the social, economic and environmental context in which they are highlighted.

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Giuseppe Dematteis, Cristiano Giorda

In this way two arguments of geography and pedagogy come together: the one of the diversity of places and the communities living in them, and the one by which every educational project must be developed and reshaped according to the context in which it is carried out. If we match these principles, the need arises to base each educational project on the knowledge of the territory, that is to say, of its resources, economy, social and cultural stratifications, historical evolution, and hence of its values, its critical points and its relations with the rest of the world. The sense of Territorial Education however consists in going beyond the recognition of the specificity of the places and the community living in them, suggesting that the way in which we describe or narrate the territory is already the expression of an intentionality, a project. This leads us to recognise how every geographical curriculum is already a place-based education, which expresses an order of values and meanings. This is nothing new, as when John Dewey, philosopher and theoretician of education, stated that the role of geography consists in the connection between natural facts and social events and in the study of their outcomes, for which reason the geographical description of the Earth insofar as inhabited by man is the expression of an educational reality, makes people aware of contemporary reality and contributes to cultural growth. In this sense, when the author considers geography as an instrument to reach peace and international cooperation through education, to live in a community, and understand diversity in the world and the right ways to relate with it (Dewey, 1916, 1927, 1958), he is touches all the subjects that today we reorder around the concepts of citizenship, inter-culture and sustainability. The attempt of Territorial Education is therefore to develop pathways and instruments to enact the principles of geographical education, highlighting how important they are in the context of globalised space, but also how far we have still to go for their diffusion in the school curricula and in the broad field of education. To think of geography from an educational Copyright© Nuova Cultura


viewpoint then entails the passage from the geographical observation to the planning, that is to say, to tackle the problems of the territory as modality of citizenship education. This planning can concern the care of places, the protection of the environment, coexistence with other cultures, the decrease of inequalities and, in general, the construction of a more inclusive society and with a better quality of life. Territorial Education thus makes particular reference to active methods, to learning about issues and to on the spot experience. Geography as active citizenship, expressed by means of the commitment to the care of the places of one’s own local community, for example, through commitment in volunteer work (Yarwood, 2005) can be the main basis around which to develop the skills of Territorial Education. Conscious action needs knowledge, but also the capacity to re-elaborate knowledge, to develop original solutions and to know how to reason them and put them into practice. For this reason we think that we can define the capacity to identify and describe territorial values as one of the most important skills for Territorial Education, evaluating their role as positive or negative, and re-collocating them in a form of active planning for the sustainable development of the territory.

5. Recognising territorial values The book Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino is a good introduction to the subject of territorial values. Marcovaldo is a rather singular character who lives in a big city and sees it from a different point of view to that of most of his fellow citizens. This permits him to find mushrooms in the flowerbeds, to escape the summer heat sleeping on a bench “like on the brink of a torrent with the wood above him”, to see a strip of beach in the pile of sand that the dredge pulls out of the river etc. But on closer inspection Marcovaldo is not much different from all the others, every one of whom sees the same things differently. For example, before Marcovaldo chose the bench for his summer holiday it was occupied by two sweethearts and certainly during the day it would have hosted pensioners, mothers with children playing in the

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garden and so on. This demonstrates that territorial values are above all the many facets of a reality that belongs to the daily life of each one of us. In fact the vision of places varies with the varying of the psychological, social and cultural conditions of whoever experiences them, that is, with the feelings, interests, desires that make part of our relationship with the territory. It is a natural but also dramatic fact since there are many of us, each with his or her own vision, while the territory is only one and – like the mushrooms, the bench or the sand of Marcovaldo – it lends itself to a multiplicity of visions and therefore customs, many of which exclude each other in turn. Marcovaldo experiences this when, having fallen asleep on what for him was a beach, he wakes up “buried on a sand barge, adrift” (Calvino, 1963, 1973 edition, p. 39). Values reveal the predicament of the territory: something that we absolutely need as individuals, but which at the same time is a common good that we have to share with the society and culture that we are part of. That is, we must find an agreement with others about how to experience the same territory together in a way that is satisfactory for everyone. It is not easy as the stronger viewpoints and interests tend to prevail over the weaker ones, both on a local and world scale (Beck, 2005; Stigliz, 2012). Therefore, even when the set-up and use of a territory find a stable order – perhaps decided democratically – there is always someone who gains and someone that loses from this, and so a degree of conflict remains, whether it be explicit or latent. And so for example, with a skilful shot of his catapult Marcovaldo’s son puts out the neon advertising which, lighting up every twenty minutes, stops him and his whole family from seeing the moon and the stars from the loft window. But the territorial conquest is not to last for long because instead of the publicity a rival company will install an even more bothersome one. It must come as no surprise therefore that there are differing opinions on the definition of the concept of value in general and territorial ones in particular. On the one hand there are people who maintain that there are unchangeable non-negotiable values (cultural, moral, religious). On the other hand people think that Copyright© Nuova Cultura

values are usually attributions based on social consensus, which therefore evolve with it and are by and large negotiable. In particular they could be converted into money, that is, into the general equivalent of all negotiable things. In the latter interpretation they would essentially be resources, fixed endowments (natural or historical-cultural) of places, which can be valorised with the right investment of capital and labour. This means that their value is equivalent to however much money one can get from their use. This reasoning can be translated in more or less rough or refined ways. Rough is building speculation which compromises a beautiful landscape, refined is the protection of the beautiful landscape to attract tourists. Rough is the motorway that crosses a territory, limiting its use and bringing no advantage, refined is the same work that foresees certain compensation for the local communities. And so on. This is true in rich democratic countries but in other countries territorial “valorization” takes place through a more or less legalised hoarding of resources by the big public or private economic organisations to the detriment of local defenceless communities. The destruction of environmental conditions (woods, waterways, agricultural land) comes into this category, and are vital for the survival of the indigenous populations, with the aim of exploiting mineral or hydroelectric resources, setting up breeding ground and cash crops. This abuse of power is frequent in the Amazon, central-eastern India, in a great part of inter-tropical Africa and in other poor countries in the south of the world. Besides being often accompanied by violence aimed at the inhabitants, these are tantamount to real breaches of human rights, insofar as they reduce the populations to famine, destroy their culture, oblige them to emigrate to towns or other countries (Shiva, 1993). In many cases similar consequences derive from the hoarding of cultivatable land - land grabbing – by the big financial or agro-industrial companies, which even operate legally. These examples demonstrate that not all the territorial values can be considered only as “resources” (Magnaghi, 2010), that is, as simple means to make money directly or indirectly. They are not when they correspond to means of the biological livelihood of the populations, nor Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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when they are conditions that guarantee the reproduction of the material and spiritual culture. For example when they are at the basis of livelihoods based on hunting and harvesting or biodiversity of crops. Or when the fundamental elements of the local culture are attributed to certain elements (mountains, waterways, plants etc.) of the territory. In the more economically developed countries there are also non-negotiable territorial values, possible sources of conflicts. A first category includes the so-called patrimonial values, like monuments, landscapes, historical sites, environments of naturalistic value. As far as concerns geography the protection of the landscape takes on particular importance, which since 2000 has had legal force in the European Landscape Convention, adopted by the Italian Code of cultural and landscape heritage in 2004. The protection of these values entails limitations in the use of the territory by private individuals (the owners included) and therefore of their intrinsic commercial value. But this does not exclude the fact that the restraints aimed at conservation are functional for a commercial valorisation of another type, for example that of tourism or property in the places near the area or the protected heritage. Another highly conflictual category includes certain uses of the territory considered harmful to health, like in the case of the big rubbish tips, nuclear power stations, etc. Another increasingly conflictual category is that of the places and traditional customs of the territories that foster a strong sense of belonging of the inhabitants, to the extent of being part of the individual or collective identities. This is the case for example of Mount Graham in Arizona, considered a sacred mountain by the Apaches and the foundation of their identity. For this reason they opposed the building of seven huge telescopes on it. Another example is that of the victorious battle of the Donria Kondh tribe in the Indian state of Orissa, against the multinational Vedanta that wanted to extract bauxite from the sacred mountain Niyamgiri In general it can be said that territorial values are non-negotiable every time that they are ascribed to the category of being – identity – when this is opposed to that of having, that is in Copyright© Nuova Cultura


the economic interest and power. Identity therefore concerns values like life (biological survival) culture as symbol and as authentic memory (non-reproducible) of a common past, or a simple sense of belonging, even individual belonging. Nevertheless, identity is something that must be considered very carefully as it can take on a negative meaning when it leads to shutting oneself off from others, refusing any exchange and dialogue with others to the point of considering them enemies (Aime, 2004; Remotti, 2007)

6. Territorial identities and development Each individual and every society tends to give an existential meaning to one or more places, to a territory of belonging. When we say for example: I’m Neapolitan, I’m Italian, I’m European, or even, I’m a citizen of the world, we recognise that a certain place or a certain geographical space is part of our personal identity. These identity references are often more than one: they can be at the same time the town or country where I was born, where I work, the places where I most like to spend my holidays, etc. This feeling for places as part of ourselves derives from the fact that we cannot live without some kind of relationship with them: even only the emotional one for which the space in which we live or have lived is a source of affection and aesthetic feelings and memories. Like all components of identity this one too has two faces: one that looks to the past, the other that looks to the future. The first one derives from the interweaving of our personal history with the places in which we have lived, the second tells us that this consolidated identity relationship can change into good or bad with the changing of the places themselves. The first is a source of certainty and stability, the second obliges us to take care of the fate of places, trying for example to preserve those values that make them feel part of ourselves. Just as there is an individual identity linked to places, there is also a collective territorial identity that concerns more or less vast groups: from the family to the small community of the neighbourhood, to the urban, regional, national, super-national ones. Each one of these

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communities has its territory of reference: the home, the quarter or the village, the town, valley, region, state, other big geographical aggregates (the Mediterranean region, Europe, etc.) This collective identity also refers to the history of the group in its relationship with a certain space. For example for the Italians this space is the national territory from its first linguistic-literary unification by Dante and Petrarch to political Unity and then the Republic. But looking back at the past is only a part of territorial identity, completely insufficient to guarantee continuity in time, even if necessary to understand the present and project it into the future. But whoever stops at the past thinks of an immobile future, where society and territory should never change: any transformation is seen as a threat for the very fact that something changes. For example the entry into the European Union can become such, along with the arrival of immigrants, the construction of a building opposite our house, a new town plan, the making of a road in the city centre into a pedestrian precinct. Territorial identities of this type are shut off in themselves, nostalgic of the past, defensive towards any novelty considered threatening in itself (Debarbieux, 2006). Eluding themselves to be able to stop time they are trampled by it. Refusing to cast oneself in the change, they will nonetheless be subject to it and often this will jeopardise those very traditional values that they set out to defend. On the contrary the true collective territorial identity is the one that is expressed in the capacity of a community to maintain itself and reproduce itself in time, as a consequence modifying the relations with its living space and with other spaces and other communities, near and far. This means not only tolerating the diversity of others and their practices, but appreciating what good they can offer in terms of ideas, capacities, productions, cultural values. It also means being able to welcome them into one’s own living spaces, insofar as the bearers of something that the people living there lack, offering them what they lack. In other words one can speak of territorial identity when a community manages to think and plan its evolution in relation to that of a territory, that CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

from being local extends to all geographical scales. For example at planetary scale, today the whole human community must face problems like climate change, the using-up of fossil fuels sources, the scarcity of food resources, the uncontrolled growth of the cities, migratory movements in continuous increase and extension. At the continental scale, bedsides these problems, the European community also has those of territorial cohesion (infrastructures, support of disadvantaged regions etc.) and unequal regional development, of migratory flows from the south of the world. At national scale we have countries like France that has been elaborating views of the whole of their territorial development for some time now and others like Italy whose central government only recently began to take this on board, with the creation of the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion. Also at intermediate scales (regional, provincial) territorial plans and projects are being formulated to reach a sort of basic level of territorial planning. This is fundamental not because it is sufficient to itself (Purcell, 2006), but, on the contrary, because only by starting from the territorial experience of local subjects (individuals, families, firms, associations, institutions) can the evolution of the societyterritory relationship be planned at higher scales. For example the problem of rubbish disposal, which is posed dramatically at a regional scale, is resolved with the separate rubbish collection in the single houses. The national problem of the excessive consumption of farm land needs above all a commitment on the part of the local authorities. The world problem of global warming can be reduced only if the COâ‚‚ emissions are limited locally. The migratory flows, which are also a global phenomenon, require local management and reception capacity, training courses aimed at the social, economic and cultural inclusion of the new inhabitants. And so on.

7. Local territorial development and global development But what exactly is local territorial development and how can it be achieved? The meaning of these three words needs to be clarified. Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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Development is a term borrowed from biology where it means the growth of living organisms according to a programme inherent in their genetic code. To apply this concept to territorial systems means to consider them similar, in certain respects, to living organisms. This is of course a metaphor, as the identity of the territorial system is, as we have seen, something that changes much more quickly than the genetic patrimony of single organisms, even though it also has the function of being a gobetween in the evolutionary process of past and future. One feature of biological development that instead can by taken almost to the letter is one of limitation: just as any organism does not grow infinitely, but at a certain point stops, also the development of territorial systems, in terms of exploitation of natural resources, population growth and economic wealth has limits, mostly dictated by the dimensions and characteristics of the territories. The planet itself presents these limits, as was highlighted in 1972 by the study “The limits to growth” carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the Club of Roma, which unfortunately did not stop the race towards the overtaking of these limits in the following decades (Turner, 2008). Technological and organisational innovations can move these limits forward, but only to a certain point, beyond which human beings notice that their world (cultural, social, technological, economic, institutional) must adapt to certain natural laws that they are not able to change, if it wants to survive. Today this condition takes on a particular ecological meaning: the limitation of the application of technology is also linked to environmental, social and economic costs that each innovation produces. Vice versa, the adaptation of technology to the conditions and differences of each territory should have as first reference that of the limit beyond which the advantages of the innovation are overtaken by the disadvantages measured in loss of territorial value. Another feature of organic development is that of being extremely diversified in geographical space: the species and their ecosystems have their own and thus very varied Copyright© Nuova Cultura


features and modalities of development. The word biodiversity expresses the characteristic very well. From this point of view the analogy of organisms with territorial systems is significant, but very problematic. In fact it is true that every territorial system tends to reproduce itself in time maintaining its own identity, nonetheless, especially in this phase of globalisation in which we live, it is also subject to strong pressures that tend to standardise its development to general models, valid for the whole planet (Hannerz, 1996). The various specialised local systems for example in fishing, wine-growing, furniture making, computers or in any other production, if they do not want to end up without work and income, they must adopt new technical and organisational modalities that do not derive from their local traditions but from innovations that assert themselves at planetary scale. This necessarily modifies the relationship of human groups with their territory and with it their lifestyles and the territories themselves (Massey and Jess, 1995). Nevertheless, if there is a levelling out on standardised development models, the local system will differentiate it even less from other similar ones scattered around the world, with the result that on a world scale the cultural, social, environmental and landscape variety, which UNESCO considers world heritage, will tend to be reduced. Unfortunately this common heritage is today seriously threatened by the fact that global economic competition ensures that the courses of development of the different human societies tend to converge in one single direction. In it the original diversities are substituted by the inequalities between those who are more advanced in this obligatory race towards the uniform and those who get left behind, between the localities, the regions and the “advanced” and “backward” countries, that is, in short between the rich and the poor. Returning to our biological metaphor, it would be as if the big differences of constitution and organic development that life presents on Earth tended to be reduced to the advantage of a sort of single model that with few variations were valid for all living organisms. Something that is clearly absurd but which in part is already happening with the reduction of biodiversity due to those very negative impacts of the single Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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model of global development environmental variety of territories.



Is it possible to counter this alarming tendency? Yes, if the development manages to be territorial starting from the local, that is to say founded on the recognition and reproduction of the values of the territory as a space that is lived in (Dematteis and Governa, 2005). Development is territorial if it concerns the set of values, resources and common heritage belonging to each territory. These are the characteristics that it has acquired during its natural and human history: environmental features, natural resources, cultural settlements, both tangible ones like architectural and landscape heritage, and intangible ones like languages, dialects and musical traditions, without forgetting works to the land, landreclamation and infrastructures, etc. whereby past generations made a territory liveable and productive. Besides these passive features so as to say, each territory is different by way of its active components characterising it. Some of these concern natural cycles like those of water, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, etc., or the “services” given free by the ecosystems. Others pertain to the inhabitants: they are their knowledge and specific skills (cognitive capital), the relations of trust and cooperation among them (social capital), the organisational and regulatory capacities of their institutions. To say that territorial development starts from the local, means to affirm that it derives from the capacity of local actors to produce material wellbeing, knowledge, beauty, organisations and quality of life beginning with the values and specific resources of the territory that they know from direct experience. For example there is local development in agriculture if, instead of homogenising cultivation, lands and agrarian landscape to standardised commercial produce, certain features of climate and soil, local traditional knowledge and skills, the variety of seeds and food-producing plants are valorised, to obtain products that could not be produced elsewhere with the same qualitative features. This is for example the programme carried out by Terra Madre, a world network of food communities, that unites over a thousand communities that are Copyright© Nuova Cultura

part of the food production chain and with the aim to defend sustainable agriculture, fishing and animal breeding, to keep the taste and biodiversity of food (Terra Madre, 2004). The same goes for the food industry, for example in Italy, as far as concerns the local specialised production systems in one of the many alternatives of Made in Italy (Becattini, 1998). In this case the local is included in a scale of national symbolic recognition, in turn used as a seal of recognition in global scale markets. Obviously all this would not be possible if the local systems were not linked together and not open to inputs of knowledge, services, capital and labour coming from outside (Governa, 2007). While in the past these external inputs were very limited and diluted over time, today they are more and more numerous and frequent, so that the role of the local actors is to mediate between the specific potential of their territories and what goes around in the global networks of knowledge, finance, services, migratory flows, professionalism. If this mediation is missing the local systems cannot preserve their identity in the change, they are standardised and on a global scale the socio-cultural diversity of the planet is reduced in favour of a single development model. But this can be avoided if the local actors are able to combine the new of external origin with material and immaterial resources and the specific self-organisational skills of their territories. This requires the relationship of the citizens with the territory to obey three conditions. The first regards the knowledge of the territory itself by those living and working in it. This knowledge is not neutral, but by and large part of a plan. It must, that is, indicate the material and symbolic potential of the territory itself, the meanings and its possible uses in a perspective of local development like the one outlined above. It is knowledge that cannot be left only to those living outside the territory or to a small group of “experts” or decision-makers informed by them, insofar that – and here the second condition comes into play - local development must above all tend to satisfy the aspirations and needs of those living there. We have already seen that each of us can attribute different values to the territory in which we live and it is not easy Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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to relate this polyphony of contrasting viewpoints to a single design of valorisation, able to satisfy all expectations. In order to approach this result there needs to be considerable active participation by the populations. In fact there are many ways to do local development: from those where the decisions are taken by a few “strong� actors who control the economy, society and local politics to those in which the citizens are organised in associations and movements that are able to represent the different needs and aspirations. Lastly, the third condition concerns the capacity of the inhabitants to be open to whatever good can come from the outside, even though maintaining their local territorial identity. This means being able to combine the new with tradition, to accept the different as a neighbour, to feel oneself part both of society and the places where one lives at the same time, and of the vaster territorial systems including them: from the region, to nation, to the big aggregates like the European Union and the entire world. In fact, only being able to see our territory within more vast geographical spaces and social sets will we be able to understand what the limitations and possibility of our local development are.

8. Conclusions. Territorial education through territorial values We have seen how the standpoints of international literature on the subject of geographical education converge on a number of key questions that can be efficiently developed starting from the study of the relations that each human community has with the territory in which it lives. We have also clarified how this relationship must be seen not only in relation to the physical space surrounding it, but also in the relations that through it we have with other persons and communities belonging to different territorial scales, up to the planetary one, with which the daily actions of each one of us interact more and more. This trans-scalarity of our relations with the different terrestrial environments, their inhabitants, economies, societies, cultures and institutions end up embracing the whole range of geographical

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knowledge, and therefore territorial education can be considered as a synonym of geographical education. Not only but it is also a particularly efficient means to practise it, insofar as it is a moment of reflection that connects the experiences of our daily experience to the issues of place, region, country to those of the planet. In such a way it makes us aware of and participant and to some extent co-responsible in the destinies of the various communities that we are part of. Territorial education is above all founded on its knowledge at the different scales. This knowledge cannot be limited to an inventory of localised objects, but must concern the relations that are entertained among these objects, both those that depend on natural laws and those brought about by human actors. The geography of the territory is therefore one of territorial action. It particularly concerns the ways and ends for which human subjects, acting on things, develop their economic, social, cultural and political relations. As we have attempted to outline in this paper, it is a geography that has territorial values as its starting point. This makes it implicitly customisable and even normative, at least at the ethical level (Popke, 2009), in any case a gymnasium of citizen education. In fact it is from the awareness of values that the care of places, the protection of the environment, the decrease of inequalities and the construction of a more inclusive society are achieved. The concept of territorial value goes beyond the more general one of value, identifying a specific geographical view of the relations between persons and their own living space. Even though territorial values can have different definitions at the different scales, many of which are justified and legitimate, the vision of those living in places and recognising in the experienced space a set of features and specific localised resources must not be ignored, which in turn are the expression of intentionality, project-making, ideas on the development of a territory and the social groups living in it and using it. The observation of the processes taking place help us to understand the importance of territorial values when they are not recognised or when the territorial community is not able to Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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defend, valorise or use them as a resource for its own cohesion and development. They are then substituted by exogenous visions, that tend to consider the territory only by function of external interests, mostly of economic exploitation, with the result of further weakening the territoriality and the territorial heritage, both material and immaterial. Territorial values in fact are not important only for the economy: they carry out or can carry out a significant role in social cohesion processes too, in the reproduction of cultural identities and in the relations among communities and places at different scales. To reason (and educate) in terms of territorial development in fact entails a development model that sustainably links the environmental aspects with the social, economic and cultural ones. Territorial education by means of territorial values therefore requires three conditions: 

to know the territory, elaborating a planning vision to the future;

to identify and elaborate the territorial values collectively, building a representation of the territory that expresses also the aspirations and needs of its inhabitants;

to recognise the relations that each territory and its inhabitants entertain with far and nearby places, and with wider or smaller regional areas comprising it.

Territorial values therefore also take on the function of mediators, of relational goods: by openly representing the places and human communities living in them, like communication facilities of a localised knowledge indispensable to develop new relations, welcome new inhabitants, plan the future of places. The concept of territorial value is one that is different from the more general one of value, taking on a connotation that is specifically linked to geographical research and the epistemological reflection of the discipline. For this reason, we consider that it is important to use it even in the geographical reflection on education and in the didactics of geography. It can represent a more specifically geographical Copyright© Nuova Cultura

contribution to the general reflection on education, identifying the educational role of the territory, the pedagogical importance of the recognition of local resources and the function of places and their specificity in the development of the life project of persons. Acknowledgements The paper is the fruit of a joint reflection of the two authors. Cristiano Giorda wrote paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, and Giuseppe Dematteis wrote paragraphs 5, 6, 7 and 8.

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12. Dewey J., The public and its problems, New York, Henry Holt & Co., 1927. 13. Dewey J., Experience and nature, New York, Dover Publications, 1958. 14. Elden S., “Land, terrain, territory”, Progress in Human Geography, 34, 6, 2010, pp. 799-817. 15. Faas D., “A civic rebalancing of British multiculturalism? An analysis of geography, history and citizenship education curricula”, Educational Review, 63, 2, 2011, pp. 143-158. 16. Gerber R., “The state of Geographycal Education in Countries Around the World”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 10, 4, 2001, pp. 349-362. 17. Gerber R. and Williams M., Geography, Culture and Education, Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002. 18. Giorda C., “Conoscenza geografica e cittadinanza. Un progetto per il territorio”, in Giorda C. and Puttilli M. (Eds.), Educare al territorio, educare il territorio. Geografia per la formazione, Rome, Carocci, 2011, pp. 45-54. 19. Giorda C. and Puttilli M. (Eds.), Educare al territorio, educare il territorio. Geografia per la formazione, Rome, Carocci, 2011. 20. Governa F., “Territorialità e azione collettiva. Una riflessione critica sulle teorie e le pratiche di sviluppo locale”, Rivista Geografica Italiana, 114, 2007, pp. 335-361. 21. Gruenewald D.A., “The Best of Both Worlds: A Critical Pedagogy of Place”, Educational Researcher, 32, 4, 2003, pp. 312. 22. Gruenewald D.A. and Smith G.A. (Eds.), Place-Based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity, New York, Lawrence Erlbaum, 2008. 23. Hannerz U., Transnational connections. Cultures, people, places, London, Routledge, 1996. 24. Haubrich H., Reinfried S. and Schleicher Y., “Lucerne Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development”, in Reinfried S., Schleicher Y. and Rempfler A. (Eds.), Geographycal Views on Education for Sustainable Development, Lucerne, IGUUGI, 2007, pp. 243-250. Copyright© Nuova Cultura


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Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 33-45 DOI: 10.4458/0900-04

A personal journey through the world of GIS, teaching and development of students’ core knowledge Adrian Manninga a

Department of Geography, University College London, London, UK Email:

Received: March 2013 – Accepted: May 2013

Abstract School geography in the United Kingdom (UK) is under pressure to justify its place in the country’s National Curriculum. It has experienced a general decline in the number of students taking it at GCSE, ALevel and University, in the face of growing competition from subjects seen as being more “trendy”. Thus, it has had to look within itself and find ways to appeal to, or reposition within, the student “marketplace”. One way has been to “jump on the bandwagon” of the digital revolution, and as a result the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is becoming more common in the secondary Geography classroom. However, to get the most out of GIS a number of fundamental questions need to be addressed, for example: How can teachers harness, and get the most out of the many GIS programmes on the market? Should they simply teach about GIS? Or is there a wider and deeper approach? Can GIS be seen as part of the wider toolkit which a teacher uses to communicate geographical concepts and stimulate students to think geographically? This paper will establish the purpose, as I see it from the perspective of an experienced educator, for the inclusion of GIS as part of everyday classroom activity. I will discuss how I have gone about creating series of lessons and resources to teach students key geographical skills, knowledge and understanding through their direct interaction and manipulation of GIS resources. Keywords: GIS, Lessons, Geography, Education, Resources, Materials, Knowledge, Understanding

1. Introduction Geography in UK secondary schools is at a cross-road, and under pressure to justify its place in the National Curriculum as never before. It has also experienced great turbulence in recent years what with the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), fluctuations in the number of students taking it at GCSE, A-Level and University, and growing competition from

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subjects seen as being more modern or easier. Some secondary schools, in fact the secondary school I went to as a pupil, have experienced such a decline in student interest in the subject that it is no longer offered as a GCSE examination subject. What’s more, the UK government’s curriculum review in 2011 proposed several significant changes to the English education

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system/curriculum; most significant of all is that all learning should aim to increase a student’s “core knowledge”. As such the entire range and scope of the country’s National Curriculum was up for grabs, each subject having to demonstrate it’s “worth” and “relevance” to children’s learning in the 21st century and an increasingly globalised education marketplace. Although, from challenge comes new opportunity. For instance, Geography is perhaps “the” subject uniquely placed to best respond to the “core knowledge” agenda, and GIS could hold the key to this… after all, what other subject deals with factual knowledge, data handling skills, and complex inter-spatial analysis all in the space of a one hour lesson? Therefore, perhaps rather than Geography being marginalised in the curriculum, the curriculum is in fact moving closer to Geography’s core values. So, the UK National Curriculum is clearly once again undergoing great change and this time the emphasis is clearly on the “core knowledge” agenda. However, there is considerable ambiguity as to what “core knowledge” actually means, what it looks like, what it incudes, and indeed how it should be taught, delivered and learnt in the 21st century classroom. This is, undoubtedly, a very important question.

2. What is knowledge? It is, in my view, reassuring that the UK Government does not address what core knowledge is or how it is to be taught or learned in minutia detail as one can argue whither such delicate and intricate issues are best addressed by educational professions or by politicians? – I personally favour the former. However, while these issues abound we are not moving the debate forward and nor does it secure Geography’s rightful place at the centre of the curriculum – for it should surely be easy for geography to excel in this world of core knowledge given the kind of topics and issues with which it deals on a daily basis. However, the danger is that “information does not equal knowledge in the deeper sense… and so for the school curriculum “knowledge” has to be more than a mere collection of Copyright© Nuova Cultura

information and facts – that is, more than a “pub quiz’ view of knowledge” (Martin and Owens, 2011, p. 89). Thus, and as I fully support, there needs to be a much more in depth view, because “knowledge [is] a complex and contested set of ideas” (Morgan, 2011, p. 89). Yet even with this notion there is a danger that “real place contexts can often become a backdrop to studying problems, and that places become typecast in the geography curriculum because of what they exemplify rather than their ever-changing realities” (Hopkin, 2011, p. 89). This is a good metaphor and rationale indicating the need for more spatially-based learning in the Geography curriculum and the intrinsic thinking which needs to go into creating GIS materials to facilitate this.

3. What should core knowledge look like? Therefore, this leads to a consideration of what core knowledge should look like within the context of Geography teaching and learning. Yet this is surprisingly difficult to establish because in the past for some seemingly innate reason educators have been ever so keen to opt for simple opposing choices – knowledge or skills? – knowledge or understanding? – teaching or learning? However these are unhelpful when we need, as now, to look at the whole picture. So, in order to begin to see what core knowledge might look like one needs to start by thinking about geographical knowledge within which it is useful to make distinctions between different forms of knowledge, and so is born there being fundamentally three knowledges1 to all geographical education. The Geographical Association (the association representing geography teachers in England and Wales) has proposed these three broad areas of knowledge, with each building on 1

For more information regarding the three knowledges concept see “The Geography National Curriculum GA Curriculum Proposals and Rationale” (Geographical Association, 2011) at: CCCurriculumProposals.pdf.

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and interrelating with the others. The first of these knowledges is core knowledge and incorporates everything that is factual, in other words, where places are, key terminology, rivers, mountains, cities etc. The second is content knowledge, this encompasses place, space and interrelationship themes and includes all the organisational frameworks, models, principals and generalisations which help us (and our students) make sense of the world. Finally, the third knowledge is procedural knowledge which encourages thinking geographically, understanding connections and issues to do with investigative and enquiry skills along with the application of thinking, analytical and organisational strategies. The three knowledges model has been well received by educators and politicians alike and so seems to have gone a long way in ensuring Geography is an influential contributor to the emerging new National Curriculum in England. Therefore, with a return to a knowledge-based curriculum prescribed by Government but where the interpretation and medium of delivery is left at the discretion of individual schools/teachers, GIS emerges a perhaps a unique and crucial tool to help Geographers rise to deliver the spatial literacy component of this new curriculum. GIS presents some things which are new and different, but the technology also sits within a much longer tradition of spatial thinking and graphic representation – the very essence, in my view, of geographical learning. It is for this reason that I devoted so much of my time during a Fellowship to University College London in 2011 to both understating the potential of, and developing curriculum resources using, GIS.

4. A snapshot of geography education in an English secondary school The subject of geography at the school where I teach has long been in a state of flux and uncertainty, much like a microcosm of the national picture. I have found my job, since joining the school as a Newly Qualified Teaching in September 2003, to be one of trying to bring stability, consistency and to generally reinvigorate the subject’s fortunes. As time went on a number of significant problems emerged. Our curriculums have, much like the national Copyright© Nuova Cultura


trend, moved away from being content rich to being issues or controversy based, and as such I have felt that crucial key geographical “basic skills” have been allowed to drift out of everyday classroom activities. However, the “core knowledge” agenda in the emerging new National Curriculum will, as I see it, bring these “basic skills” – such as spatial literacy and mapping, potentially via using GIS – back to the fore, and as a school we cannot afford to ignore this. What’s more, we lacked any formal teaching, or resources for teaching, Geographical Information Systems (in its simplest form digital mapping), something which has recently grown in importance for the department since there is now an explicit expectation to teach some form of GIS in the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) school inspection criteria. Meanwhile, uptake of geography for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) has been falling for many years – alongside a similar national trend – and so the subject seemed to be in danger of being removed from the curriculum in the future. Thankfully, geography’s inclusion in English Baccalaureate (EBacc), the UK Government’s attempt to answer critics who say that the GCSE has become too easy by giving it a new name and making the examination system more rigorous and focused on “academic” subjects, has had a significant impact. While some schools see this as a threat to the subject’s autonomy and perhaps its very existence, in the case of my school this couldn’t be further from the response it has received. While my school does not yet officially run the EBacc we do have a “quazi-EBacc” system whereby our most able students are guided towards an EBacc style set of options at GCSE – which happily includes Geography – and since the introduction of this our numbers have soared, from 44 GCSE students in 2010 to 138 students in 2011. Therefore, I felt the solutions for a large number of these issues would seem to lay in developing GIS resources for both Key Stage 3 (11-13 year olds) and Key Stage 4 (14-16 year olds). Thus, with the local issues in my school are also a microcosm for what is happening in the national arena and there being a significant

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shift in the next 12-18months with the implementation and curriculum resource creation following the recent publication of the UK government’s new National Curriculum, it is my belief that GIS can go a long way to addressing the issues and aspirations of this…and by developing it now it places me and my school a-head-of-the-game. More generally, to sustain the subject as a discrete discipline, Geography has, in many cases, had to look within itself and find ways to appeal to, or reposition within, the student “marketplace”. One such way has been the technological revolution of both teaching materials for staff and learning media for students. Of the many examples of this new approach/pedagogy, the use of Geographical Information Systems is become ever more common in the secondary Geography classroom. Indeed, it is something which students in their everyday lives more than likely come into contact with and use, for instance on a computer game, in a mobile phone etc., it is a widely held expectation within GCSE syllabuses, and as such is a fact we can no longer ignore as a department, as a school, and as an education community as a whole. This led to the formulation of a series of crucial and fundamental questions facing geography teachers like myself: What GIS programmes are available for schools? How can teachers harness, and get the most out of, the many GIS programmes on the market? Should they simply teach about GIS or is there a wider and deeper approach of teaching with GIS? In other words, can GIS be seen as part of the wider toolkit which a teacher uses to communicate geographical concepts and stimulate students to think geographically?

5. Building a GIS-based curriculum I decided that to be able to effectively create GIS teaching resources I had to go back to the beginning and consider my own knowledge and understanding of GIS. This, to be honest, was not very extensive prior to embarking on creating the lessons using GIS, amounting to only one module’s worth of experience with a Copyright© Nuova Cultura

very primitive form of GIS when I was completing my undergraduate geography degree in 2002.So, I felt the starting point had to be to first of all gain familiarity with the current GIS market. From this I then chose my preferred product and created a Key Stage 3 unit of 12 lessons which had the intention of exposing students to the attributes and functionality of GIS via structured lessons where skill and ability are built up sequential. Then I felt that having gained this experience lower down the school students would not require “the same again” at GCSE, instead, and assuming they retained the skills learnt earlier, they could really push their spatial and geographical learning boundaries. Thus, I wanted to create a series of “one off” lessons which would be integrated with and support the themes, issues and case studies covered in the GCSE specification. Finally, and following from this, there was much discussion between the Geographical Association, Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers and myself about the role and purpose of GIS in geographical education. It was felt that, although my school’s geography teaching area/department is fortunate enough to have a dedicated ICT room solely for the subject’s use, many departments in other school up and down the country are not so lucky. Therefore, it was felt that the wider Geography teaching community needed a way to get involved with, and benefit from, GIS but with lessons which did not require students to have access to the software on individual computers. As a result of this, the concept of a small number of lessons which are capable of being delivered by the teacher “from the front” was created. Throughout all of this it was important for me to remember what an ESRI representative had told me which was that to get the best out of GIS you should teach with GIS rather than teach about GIS.

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6. Evaluating GIS programmes in the UK market

field, a city centre street, a collection of villages for example.

I now set about assessing the two leading GIS products available to UK schools – ESRI’s DigitalWorlds/ArcView and the Advisory Unit Computers in Education’s AEGIS3 platforms – to assess which I felt was most appropriate and best suited to my needs. This involved me, after having kindly been supplied with free copies of both products with which to work, initially setting up each and teaching myself how to use each programme. Then I evaluated the lesson materials supplied with each, and I concluded by having a go at creating some sample lesson to see how I might use each to generate my own lessons for my own curriculum back at school.

In other words, you cannot start looking at one place in a town country or the world and then pan (travel/scroll) to look at somewhere else, without having previously decided where that somewhere else is going to be at the point in time when the worksheet was created. While this offers a very neat, “all-on-one-page” approach to GIS it is perhaps a bit restrictive, inhibiting teachers’ and students’ potential natural curiosity to look at other places, landscapes etc. Plus, one may consider it and quite expensive given that each map you wish to use from which to create a worksheet has to be purchased and you are only able to buy four maps per annum. However, there are numerous pre-written maps supplied with AEGIS3 at the point of initially purchasing the programme, and it is very easy to set up sheets/activities where the students can directly input their own data which they have collected (from fieldwork or the like) and it will, with one or two clicks, appear on the map, so simple a process that I would imagine the vast majority of primary age students could do it with ease.

My view at the starting point of this was, going by my only previous experience of GIS which dated from when I was a university undergraduate in the early 2000s during which time I undertook an independent learning module using a program called MapInfo , that all GIS programmes were much the same as each other: a series of pre-loaded maps and/or maps that you geocoded yourself using a digitising tablet, chloropleth or isopleth coloured overlays, and a range of tasks linked to these designed to encourage the interrogation of the maps or to solve some sort of problem/scenario. How far this notion was from the truth quickly became apparent, since as soon as I installed and switched each on I quickly realised the two programs were surprisingly different from each other (a summary of this evaluation can be found in Tables 1-3). The AEGIS3 program was essentially a series of self-contained worksheets about a range of given topics. The worksheets all follow a common format which incorporates a map extract, a table of data, and some activities for the students to do which requires them to interact with and interrogate the map and data provided and the answers to these are then written onto/into the worksheet. Tasks or activities can be written about almost any geographical topic or theme, however there is no “searchable” United Kingdom or worldwide map so once you have decided what the topic or area of study is to be the map you use is confined by those parameters, a school playing Copyright© Nuova Cultura

DigitalWorlds UK, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite to AEGIS3. In DigitalWorlds, or indeed its older, more sophisticated, brother, ArcGIS, each element of the lesson – the map, the overlay layer(s), the worksheet etc. – exist as separate files, more akin to the way you may store files in folders on your PC’s hard drive. While this allows for larger maps and greater clarity from not having to fit everything onto one sheet of A4, it can perhaps lead to a somewhat cluttered screen with perhaps 3 or 4 files needing to be open at the same time for the user/student to complete their work. However, that said, the big advantage in my opinion is that the maps and layers capable of being displayed are pan- and zoom-able, this meaning that one’s natural curiosity to see other places and compare our place in the world with that of others is catered for with seemingly infinite possibilities. With DigitalWorlds UK from day one, “straight out of the box”, and the moment you install it, you get Ordnance Survey (the United Kingdom’s official national map provider), Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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historic maps (typically dating from the 19th century), and high-quality aerial imagery maps of the UK. As well as this you get world topographic, street view, shaded relief, and satellite imagery maps. Whether you are producing lessons or activities using the UK or global resources the same is true, any number of these layers can be opened or used in conjunction with each other. Further, the data which comes with the program is far more extensive and flexible in its potential use as it is made available as separate layers which can be added to the map and which can be as broad or narrow as the user requires. In other words if for example you want the crime rate for every subdistrict of the South East of England you can have it, however, equally, if you just want the crime rate for the sub-districts that make up an individual town then you can filter the parent data table and map only the data which is require. This is largely due to the fact that where there is a sizable range of pre-written activities/tasks; these are not in the form of pre-created worksheet with a map extract already embedded and “locked” into it. What’s more, the maps are pan and zoom-able meaning that maps can be created exactly to the users requirements, and even when the map is created if the user is so inclined they can move around the map to carry out further or extensions to their study. This program also, and similar to AEGIS3 but to a far greater extent, comes with a wealth of map functions which allow the learner to use choropleth, proportional shapes, and many other mapping forms, as well as mark, measure, and analyse features on the map(s). While the number of preloaded lessons is fewer with DigitalWorlds UK, the possibility to easily and quickly create your own material far outweighs this. After reaching this point I felt it was important to take both programs into my school and get a sample cross-section of students to test both before coming to a decision about which they preferred and found most “user friendly”. From these tests it became apparent that my students and I both preferred the DigitalWorlds program and so I could then progress onto the main area of my work, to create a suite of GISbased lessons. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

AEGIS     

 

Can “ask questions”/search the data/map to show certain patterns/trends/parts of the data Data balloons – hover over point to see the data of a location/pinned to that location Multiple data tables and can show multiple sets of data/graphs One-off payment Mastermaps are already geo-referenced/ each item has a seed so data can be instantly mapped (no need to draw polygons for building before mapping land-use for example) Easy to access – worksheet style format Worksheet (and all associated documents e.g. table/spreadsheet) can be created (and locked) ready for students to input their data/mapping their data


Historic map layer already embedded Gives whole of UK Ordnance Survey mapping coverage (at all scales and down to Mastermap scale)  Gives whole of UK satellite imaging layer  Hyperlink any number of/type of information points to a location on the map  Buffering – can use this to predict location of coastline in X years’ time  World topographic layer + OS layer gives 3D effect to relief of the land  Cheap, no extras to subscribe/pay for  Large amount of 2001 Census data already in programme (already available on LLSOAs) – no need to download it from Office of National Statistics  Can show Census data for a region or any combination of regions and compare them – don’t need to show data for all of England & Wales  Able to provide/work on maps through internet interface – ArcGIS or ArcExplorer Online – so don’t always need access to the program Table 1. Strengths comparison AEGIS3 vs. Digital Worlds/ArcView.

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7. Building the lesson resources

AEGIS      

No historic map layer/data available Have to buy/subscribe to OS for Mastermap maps/GOAD maps have to be purchased separately Can only work with UK maps etc. unless map is scanned in and displayed as a picture/or photo is used as the raster No automatic UK wide coverage/layer Have to subscribe/pay to get Mastermaps etc. Have to download any data you want from Office of National Statistics website before mapping it via LLSOA layer for England & Wales which comes with package When download excel data spreadsheets from Office of National Statistics (or other sites) the data has to be reorganised so that there is only one row containing the field headings As well as basic programme if want to use Mastermaps or Goad Town Plans have to buy these programs separately and at additional cost


Annual subscription required to use the program  Have to draw polygons before able to map land-use for example  Have go through editor process to add data – no table/spreadsheet onto which to entre data directly Table 2. Weaknesses comparison AEGIS3 vs. Digital Worlds/ArcView.


£921 initial outlay if you buy all packages (needed to equal basic functionality of Digital Worlds) and Ordnance Survey Mastermap subscription and ECW aerial photos (minimum cost of which is £36 for one 1km sq. tile) plus £85 every three years thereafter to retain access to Ordnance Survey Mastermaps


£250 for DigitalWorlds/£350 for ArcView (£500 if brought together)) annual subscription covers everything Table 3. Price comparison AEGIS3 vs. Digital Worlds/ArcView (2011 prices).

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Once the purpose and value of GIS as part of everyday classroom activity is established, and that I feel is largely agreed, there follows perhaps the most formidable barrier preventing it from actually being embedded in the classroom – the need to create resources which ensure it is used effectively, and not simply a toy or gimmick, as a tool to enthuse, engage an inspire our young geographers, resources which also do not necessitate “reinvesting the wheel” or rewriting everything which has gone before, but add to and enrich lessons in pre-existing units of work, including GCSE schemes of work. This is what I shall now turn my attention to as described below are the three sets of resources which I have recently written for us in my, and other, geography departments in UK secondary schools. The first resources I created was a 12 lesson unit aimed at Key Stage 3 (11-14 year olds) designed to introduce students to the world of mapping and digital mapping, and ultimately give them a hands-on experience of working with GIS (Table 4 and Figures 1-3). The lessons themselves are independent of each other in terms of geographical content but, and most crucially, develop and build sequentially the users GIS skills base. For instance the first lessons introduce the concepts of panning (moving) around the map and zooming in and out, then they gradually build up to creating new layers and buffering features on their maps. Ultimately the intention is the user/student has developed sufficient proficiency that they are able to create maps independently. The assessment for the unit takes two forms – at the mid-point (lesson 6) there is a practice assessment whereby students do exactly as they will do in the end of unit assessment, using the same criteria/mark scheme etc. but when it is marked, the teacher provides comments which the student use to feed-forward into their final assessment – the idea being that this helps the student to perform better in the final assessment. These lessons will go a long way to addressing the lack of spatial literacy currently in the United Kingdom’s geography curriculum as well as assisting in meeting the UK

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Government’s desire for a greater emphasis on children acquiring core knowledge. What’s more, this will benefit all students, and in time as these Key Stage 3 students move up into Key Stage 4 they, hopefully, will carry their acquired GIS knowledge form these elementary lessons into more sophisticated GIS lessons and activities as part of their GCSE educational experience. Key Stage 3 lessons:      

Crime mapping using Census data Plate tectonics Classifying land-use Coastal erosion Brazil – case study Microclimates (feed forward/mock assessment)  Traffic survey  Hurricanes  Wind energy – where to site wind turbines  Latitude and Longitude  Assessment lesson Table 4. Key Stage 3 lessons prepared using DigitalWorlds.

The next phase of my development of GIS-based teaching resources took the form of a series of twenty lessons linked to the GCSE syllabus which I teach in my secondary school (Table 5 and Figure 4). These lessons expose the students to key geographical concepts, knowledge and understanding through their direct interaction and manipulation of GIS-based maps and associated investigation tasks. These lessons also crucially build on the knowledge and skills the students gained whilst completing the Key Stage 3 GIS unit lower down the school. The lessons here do not aim to develop any particular, or new, skills or competencies with the use of GIS, they serve, instead, to reinforce the skills learnt earlier on and provide opportunities for the students to enhance and extend their learning about the topics and themes covered

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in the chapters of the course textbook. Further, these lessons were designed to provide a subtle blend of representing material already in the textbook, but in a much more accessible and visually pleasing way, and providing different examples or case studies which skilfully complement those in the textbook. Not only that but I felt it was necessary to try, where possible, to give these lessons a local flavour. This is because all too often my students tell me that they find the subject of geography difficult due to the fact that they have no first-hand experience of the places being studied or of the issues being discussed. Therefore, in order to try and address this I took the conscious decision to develop, where possible, examples and investigations which were based on the town in which the school is located and most of the students live, or the surrounding area. This I hope will give students the familiarity, ownership and confidence to engage with their learning in a better and deeper way as it will be principally about the areas which they know and interact with on a daily basis. Like this I hope these resources will help my students, irrespective of their academic abilities, and will particularly be of use to visual learners – those who statistically make up almost half of the school population – which, as research suggests, is becoming the predominate learning style of students throughout the developed world, perhaps, one might speculate, due to their ever more frequent, dependence even, on electronic “gadgets” which operate in the visual medium. Further, I had recently become aware of the widespread use of GIS within the world of work, at the town’s Sixth Form College, and within the tertiary education sector so it was my intention that if they have had exposure to GIS at school they would become more employable and/or better equipped to undertake further study beyond my school.

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Figure 1. Screen shot of one of the Key Stage 3 lessons in SMART format.

Figure 2. Screen shot of a student worksheet to accompany one of the Key Stage 3 lessons.

Figure 3. Screen shot of a DigitalWorlds map which students directly manipulate in one of the Key Stage 3 lessons.

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Key Stage 4 lessons:        

Socio-economic indicators – Colchester Social patterns in Colchester Access to services in Colchester UK population dynamics Urban planning issues Global population dynamics Conflicting demands on the countryside Managing rural environments under pressure from visitors  Investigating hurricanes  Water supply in the UK  Flood hazards  Flood management  Technology and the world of work  World development  Global imports and exports  The need for aid  What location factors attract business  How does a global company operate  Biodiversity  Microclimates Table 5. Key Stage 4 lessons prepared using DigitalWorlds.

Following from developing these resources, there was much discussion between the Geographical Association, Royal Geographical Society and myself about the role and purpose of GIS, not least, although my department is blessed with having a dedicated ICT room solely for the use with Geography glasses/by Geography colleagues, many school Geography departments are not so fortunate. Therefore, it was collectively felt my fellow teachers, as well as the wider Geography teaching community, needed a way to get involved with GIS but with lessons which did not require students to have direct access to the software on a computer in front of them. Hence the concept of lessons which are capable of being delivered by the teacher from the front and where students, rather than needing direct access to a GIS programme, complete their learning using paper-based activities following the lead demonstrated by the teacher (Table 6 and Figure 5). Therefore, I set about creating a small number of lessons which could be delivered in this mode. In total I have created eight lessons – four concerning physical geography topics (such as glacial landscape

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features) and 4 on human geography topics (such as where a by-pass road should be built). These lessons are aimed to be multipurpose, aiming to both developing skills and competencies with using GIS software, as well as enabling the acquisition of geographical knowledge and understanding by picking up on eight common topics taught widely across the United Kingdom curriculum. These resources, whilst undoubtedly being of use and capable of integration with my earlier Key Stage 3 and GSCE lessons, primarily aim to meet the needs of a wider audience – that of the large body of teachers who have little or no experience of or with GIS and who either lack the confidence or ICT resources to allow their students to directly use GIS. These indeed intend to be a way into GIS or an entry level product. From the front lessons: 

Investigating whether Halstead needs a bypass  River flooding  Glacial landscapes  Land-use  River landscapes from source to mouth  Sheffield socio-economic contrasts lesson  Locating a wind farm  Disparities in world development Table 6. From the front lessons prepared using DigitalWorlds.

8. Alternative sources of GIS and where do we go from here? In this article, and as is the case with the majority of my research and work developing teaching resources, I have focused entirely and solely on commercial, pay-to-use, GIS software programmes like DigitalWorlds UK. However, there is an increasing wealth of free-to-use programmes and application on the market or readily downloadable from the Internet, Indeed a future area of research would take the form of looking at the potential of GIS in the future Geography curriculum via programmes and services such as Google Earth, Gapminder, Google Maps, or even ESRI’s spin of service ArcGIS Explorer Online which has similar functionality as the commercial DigitalWorlds programme but is a free web based platform.

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Figure 4. Screen shot of a DigitalWorlds map which students directly manipulate in one of the Key Stage 4 lessons.

Figure 5. Screen shoot of a Digital Worlds map which students directly manipulate in one of the frontal lessons.

So where do I go from here… having created the resources profiled in this article I taking them into my school and used them with my students in the classroom, This has given them a thorough “test-driving” allowing me to make modifications to them which only became apparent when one gets a class of thirty students all trying to use the programme at the same time. This has in turn enabled me to enhance the Copyright© Nuova Cultura

teaching materials, increase their functionality and, most crucial of all, ensure they are accessible to all, from the most technologically literate student (or indeed teacher) to those who are picking it up for the first time. Having created, as I was told by the ESRI colleagues with whom I worked so closely while designing and creating my GIS lessons, the largest single repository of such teaching Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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materials using DigitalWorlds UK – a total of some 40 lessons – in the country I, along with ESRI and the Geographical Association, am keen to share them with other teachers. Hence the idea from ESRI that we could work my lessons up into a book or series of books combined with targeted releases on the Internet and their companion Arc GIS Explorer Online site. In conjunction with this, there are on-going discussions with regard to me demonstrating some of the lessons I have created to the wider technology in education audience via educational conferences and/or teacher training events both nationally/regionally or by going into schools to work with specific groups of geography teachers. Most recently, I have been accepted to study for a PhD at University College London. In this I intend to investigate the impact/potential of GIS within the geography classroom. I envisage this as enabling me to both continuing the process I have started of devising GIS lessons but also combining this with looking much deeper into the teaching pedagogy of working with GIS, the way in which it appears, in a very timely way, to help Geography promote itself within the core knowledge agenda being championed by the UK Government in its curriculum review, and the barriers to its wider use in the classroom – whether these barriers be technological, conceptual, financial or other. Indeed the current lack of uptake of GIS-lead teaching and learning in the classroom is an issue which is troubling the Geographical Association at this very point in time.

9. Conclusions – A personal review At the start of this process, or journey, I had very little knowledge or experience of GIS – other than what I did with it as part of an independent learning module as part of my degree in 2002. As I expected to find, things have moved on substantially since then! I now feel I have at the very least a good grasp of what current-day commercial GIS programmes can do, and most crucially how they can be integrated with geography teaching. I feel I have demonstrated throughout this learning journey that my knowledge and skills have grown and

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my ability to develop teaching materials which exploit GIS to the full has improved as a consequence. Furthermore, and on a deeper level it has been a personal journey for me, a chance to reconnect with, or connect with in a different way, the world of geography in academia. Working with GIS has given me an opportunity to re-ignite my passion for the subject as a discipline, and to study for my own interests and fulfilment. Ultimately working with GIS has improved my own learning as well as that of my students. Above and beyond the impact this experience of working with GIS has had on me and the context of my school I have also, I feel, been able to start at least to have an impact on the wider Geography community and pedagogy of Geography teaching beyond my classroom. For example, along with my colleagues at the Geographical Association, Royal Geographical Society and ESRI I have made a contribution to the national debate on “core knowledge” and the UK’s new National Curriculum though my investigation of the potential for GIS to play a significant part in delivering this new approach. Furthermore, and perhaps most significant of all, I am taking an active lead in the debate as to the purpose of and potential for GIS in the Geography curriculum. I started my “journey” by “test driving” and evaluating the two main commercial GIS products on the market aimed at secondary schools in the United Kingdom. This evaluation, whist serving as a starting point for my work, has also revisited similar evaluations which the Royal Geographical Society commissioned 3-4 years ago. To that end I have updated and reassessed these and my findings are being fed into the wider body of knowledge on this subject. It has become clear to me that teaching with GIS is still in its infancy in many schools, and completely absent in many more, and consequently the number and breadth of lessons available to those schools who do wish to engage with it, but don’t want to sit there for hours designing their own materials (time is so stretched in the busy school environment), is extremely limited. Thus, the lessons I have designed and used at my school also act as an off the shelf option for other teachers, and as Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Adrian Manning

such they are regarded by ESRI as the largest single repository of DigitalWorlds lessons currently in existence in the UK. Following from this I am currently exploring avenues for dissemination of the resources I have created in the form of textbooks perhaps for teachers from elsewhere to access, use, and benefit there from. Therefore, rather than having completed or come to the end of my GIS-journey, instead, I feel, that I have only just begun to scratch the surface, and have merely reached the end of the beginning… Acknowledgements The contents of this contribution were the culmination of my researches during my time as University College London’s Fawcett Fellow during the Autumn Term of 2011.

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References 1. Hopkin J., “Sampling the world”, Teaching Geography, 36, 3, 2011, pp. 96-97.

2. Lambert D., “The Geography National Curriculum GA Curriculum Proposals and Rationale”, Geographical Association, 2011, _GIGCCCurriculumProposals.pdf. 3. Martin F. and Owens P., “Well, what do you know? The forthcoming curriculum review”, in Biddulph M., Editorial: The knowledge issue, Teaching Geography, 36, 3, 2011, p. 89. 4. Morgan J., “Knowledge and the school geography curriculum: a rough guide for teachers”, Teaching Geography, 36, 3, 2011, pp. 90-92.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 47-56 DOI: 10.4458/0900-05

GIS in school education in Estonia – looking for an holistic approach Jüri Roosaarea, Ülle Liibera a

Department of Geography, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia Email:

Received: May 2013 – Accepted: June 2013

Abstract The strategic role of GIS for geography education is undoubted, but there is a diversity in understandings with regard to what, when and how to teach. Also, the concept of geo-media has growing popularity in the educational context. Its borderline with GIS is quite fuzzy and changing. In this paper we present the case of Estonia on integrating geo-media and GIS into school education. According to the National Curriculum (NC) of Estonia, students must acquire a wide variety of skills in information technology, therefore a list of compulsory ICT based practical works have been added to the geography curriculum. NC now gives more emphasis to optional subjects. Geoinformatics is one of such elective courses at secondary school level. In order to graduate from secondary school every student needs to compile a research paper in one subject in addition to state exams. Advanced students are given more and more emphasis, their special needs being recognized also by the NC. The Gifted and Talented Development Centre at the University of Tartu and Geography Olympiads have been a means to select and involve students. A centrally hosted web-based school information and management system and supporting activities of the Tiger Leap Foundation are assisting teachers, and e-learning platforms (e.g. Moodle) are used by many schools. Advanced students can join social networks of the professional community (e.g. Estonian Geoinformatics Society), have meetings (e.g. in the Annual GIS Day) and present students’ research papers. Keywords: GIS, Geo-media, Geography Education, E-learning, Olympiads, Employability

1. Introduction Geography is one of the oldest school subjects, but its importance and role have been repeatedly questioned (Cawley, 1998; Goh, 2005). The situation is similar at universities and in the labor market (Mezösi et al., 2001; Rooney et al., 2006; Segawa, 2012) whereby all three are interconnected (Conolly, 2001; Donert, 2007). Copyright© Nuova Cultura

We start from the assumptions that educational models for geography in large, medium-sized, small and very small countries should be different from each other (Roosaare et al., 2007). Arild Holt-Jensen (2005) makes an overview of the changing status of geography, mainly in the Nordic countries, and raises ten hypotheses Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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about factors influencing the status of geography. He underlines: “The status of the discipline is dependent on the degree to which geography is maintained as a united discipline encompassing both man and nature” (ibid, p. 142). Instead of splitting it into physical and human geography – it may contribute to success in science – and dissolving in special disciplines, geography as a field of education should stand out for its strengths. His first statement, important in the context of this paper is: “The status of geography in a country is directly correlated to the position of geography in the school curriculum” (ibid, p. 141).

technology in the hands of naïve users notwithstanding” (Goodchild, 2007, p. 202). Therefore the concept of geo-media has growing popularity also in the educational context (Felsenhauer and Quade, 2012). Geo-media in the broad sense includes media that uses geospatial information (Gryl and Jekel, 2012). The term is wider than GIS, but the borderline between GIS (e.g. ArcGIS Explorer Online) and geo-media (e.g. Google Earth) is quite fuzzy and changing. Increasing capabilities of different geoportals and development of the cloud technology turn the tracking of this division – at least for the educational context – insignificant.

Globalization and the development of positioning technology have brought different ICT applications of geography into wide public use. This process is giving new evidence for geography's utility in everyday life. GIS as an information system with geographic content has been and is central in most of the arguments on importance of geography.

Despite the huge growth in the use of different geo-media applications in school education in the course of time, this process has taken place according to the general internetization of society and the development of e-learning. The integrating potential of geospatial data is still underutilized.

Although there are many papers on GIS education (an overview is made by Baker et al., 2012) and examples on case studies (Milson et al., 2012), the status of GIS in school education is not yet established. A classical question is: to teach geography with GIS or to teach the tools of GIS? The former is traditionally the “right answer”, but without the skills of using tools, the geography carried out with the help of GIS is quite poor, limited to semiautomatic thematic cartography. The rising importance of the inquiry methods in education emphasizes the analytical capabilities of GIS and requires more and more mathematical knowledge, i.e. understanding what is behind the buttons of GIS software. Many obstacles have been pointed out against achieving full potential of GIS in “learning on spatial thinking” (Lee and Bednarz, 2009). An objective reason for such a situation consists in rapid development of ICT, as a result of which concrete GIS tools become obsolete very quickly and the understanding on GIS usage is changing continuously. “We are moving rapidly from a concert pianist model of GIS as a tool confined to experts, to a child of ten model in which the power of GIS is available to all, the obvious concerns about powerful and complex Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Universities are trying – and mostly managing – to go along with the technological development, but school education has limited ability to change so quickly. School arrangement is traditionally conservative, constrained by the fixed curriculum and rigid rules to ensure the quality requirements for aids in teaching. One of the main limitations of geo-media usage in the real learning process is the teachers' lack of time (Höhnle et al., 2010). Many success stories of using GIS in school education have been project-based, relying on enthusiastic teachers (Kerski, 2003; Milson and Earle, 2007; Favier, et al., 2009; Demirci et al., 2011). However, the integration of GIS and geospatial applications into the curriculum proceeds, too (Schubert and Uphues, 2009; Rød et al., 2010; Johansson, 2012; Wang and Chen, 2013; Goldstein and Alibrandi, 2013). In this paper we introduce a possible model of how to integrate geo-media and GIS into general school education, exemplified by the case of Estonia. As a country of “small geography” (one university-level geography department) the emphasis here is on the contingent of advanced pupils, who are supposed to become important players among geography professionals in the future.

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2. The role of Geography in the national curriculum In Estonia, geography has always been a separate subject in the curriculum, although its role has decreased remarkably in the course of time. At present, according to the new National Curriculum (NC) of Estonia (National Curricula for Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools, 2011) there are a total of 5 courses (one course having 35 hours) of geography in the basic schools (Form 7-9). However, if we take the time budget as an indicator, the importance of geography in basic schools is the same compared to other non-basic subjects like biology, physics or history. At the secondary school level (Form 10-12), there are 3 courses (105 hours altogether) and the relative importance of geography is rather small (Figure 1).


have to collect relevant information from various sources like interactive maps, satellite pictures, databases, climate charts, photos, and from other web-based geo-media sources. Secondary school students need to critically assess, interpret and analyze the spatial data, find correlations, make generalizations and conclusions on maps and collected data.

At the basic school level most attention is paid to natural phenomena, and subject matter is taught through the following topics: map work, climate, water, geology, landscapes, biomes and population. The geography course in the 9th form is a short survey of Europe and Estonia. The latter topic was supported in 2000 by a multilevel electronic textbook, which included also cartographic tools and GIS tutorials1 (Liiber and Roosaare, 2005). Two thirds of the lessons at the secondary school level pertain to human geography and one third to physical geography. Regional geography is very weakly represented in the Estonian school syllabus. The NC emphasizes the integration of subjects, usage of ICT including geo-media, research-based learning and career planning. Closely related subjects have been categorised by subject domain, which makes it easier to achieve their common aims through the integration of subject matters. The use of scientific methods is a link between all science subjects and thus forms their common basis. As an integrative subject geography belongs at the same time to the natural sciences and the social studies domain. According to the NC more emphasis is given to ICT competences, therefore a list of compulsory ICT based practical works have been added after every theme in the science domain syllabuses. Even basic school pupils 1 juts.html.

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Figure 1. Position of geography in the time budget of school subjects (Forms 7-12). Source: National Curricula for Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools, 2011.

The updated NC is more flexible than the old one: the number of compulsory courses for all pupils was reduced from 72 to 63. So secondary school students can choose more optional courses according to their interests and skills to prepare themselves for ongoing studies in the high schools. Elective courses in the domain of science and technology include (besides robotics, applied programming, elements of economic mathematics etc.) an optional course of geoinformatics as well (35 hours). All the above-mentioned courses have high-level elearning environments developed, piloted and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Jüri Roosaare, Ülle Liiber

implemented by professional teams during a “TeaMe” programme2. The Department of Geography at the University of Tartu is in charge of the course of geoinformatics (Roosaare et al., 2011) that is analyzed in the fifth section of this paper. The NC requires that in order to graduate from secondary school, every student needs to compile a research paper in one subject in addition to the three state-level and one schoollevel exams. Probably the requirement of a research paper in the NC will foster the usage of GIS by secondary school students, because GIS is more and more acknowledged to be a good tool in research work in other subjects as well. Processing, analysing and visualizing the spatial data is useful not only for traditional subjects (e.g. history or biology), but also for the crosscurricular topics – e.g. for “environment and sustainable development”, “civic initiative and entrepreneurship”, and “career planning”. Since geo-media skills are highly valued in many professions, students who have acquired GIS competence during their secondary school studies have multiple advantages in career planning, either in the high-school studies or in the labour market (Rooney et al., 2006; Roosaare et al., 2007; Arrowsmith et al., 2011). Thus the requirements of the new national curriculum promote in every way the implementation of geo-media and GIS both in basic schools and in gymnasium.

3. Teachers' role in the usage of geomedia Although the national curriculum has a notable influence on teaching at schools, the real teaching-learning process in the classrooms depends on teachers' professionalism. As always, there are teachers who are very enthusiastic to implement new technologies and teaching methods and the others, who prefer to stay loyal to the traditional methods – teaching

with “chalk and board” (i.e. “PowerPoint show” now). Nowadays, nearly all teachers can use a computer classroom with internet access, but the computers are sometimes a little out-dated. Most schools are using a centrally hosted web-based school information and management system eKool (e-School). In many schools more and more geography lessons take place in the computer labs.3 The questionnaire survey made in 2011 amongst geography teachers (N=76) showed that most of respondents use computers for preparing the lessons, but only one third of respondents answered that they often carry out geography lessons in the computer labs and really work with geo-media. Many studies are showing that the lack of teacher preparation in GIS, insufficient curriculum time for GIS, lack of suitable instructional packages, high general workload of teachers and extra preparation time are the main impediments in the integration of GIS into school geography (Liu and Zhu, 2008; Yap et al., 2008; Wheeler et al., 2010). The same limiting factors are mentioned in our investigation among Estonian geography teachers. There are lots of possibilities for teachers to improve their didactical and technological competences. In 1997 the Tiger Leap Foundation (TLF)4 was created to foster the usage of modern technology in schools and to improve the ICT-related competencies of teachers and students. During the last 16 years various ICT equipment, teacher training courses, e-learning materials, projects’ support, and competitions for teachers and pupils have been offered to schools by the TLP. To facilitate the implementation of the new national curriculum, the TLF is now offering integral state-of-the-art solutions of ICT infrastructure, education technology and teacher training. The strategy of the Ministry of Education and 3


“TeaMe” with main objective to enforce interest of young people in career in science and technology is financed by the European Social Fund. Budget of the TeaMe programme for years 2009–2013 is 3.4M€. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

According to the official statistics (http:// E2%80%932012) 75% of households in Estonia have Internet connections and practically all school kids are using Internet. 4 Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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Research envisages that by 2020 the whole curriculum will be covered by digital study materials (The e-Schoolbag initiative). This involves developing an advanced teaching/learning infrastructure. To achieve this several projects will start in the future. Concerning geography we plan to continue our multi-level approach: basic study material on the use of geo-media will be provided for an ordinary pupil according to the compulsory syllabus; advanced level tutorials will be offered for potential participants of Olympiads, who are supposed to use their GIS skills in group work, tackling spatial allocation problems for example. About a quarter of Estonian teachers are registered users of the TLF education portal Koolielu (School Life). Via this portal, they can share thousands of study materials structured on the basis of the NC. Every teacher can find good instructions for geo-media based lessons from Koolielu5. A special competition was organized in the scope of GIS-day in 2012 to get contemporary study-materials to use geo-media tools at schools. All those works are ready for use and available for teachers. Thus, the lack of suitable instructional packages for geo-media based lessons cannot be a barrier for GIS usage in schools. In the last five years, short courses on new technologies in geography education (how to use GPS, GIS or data loggers and sensors of Vernier) were held by Tartu University lecturers for the participating students during the final competition of the Geography Olympiads. Prolonged courses with the same content were organised for the teachers accompanying students. Again and again, we have to recognize that students acquire technology-based skills more quickly than teachers. Also, the web-based GIS courses (for ArcGIS 2009 and QGIS 2012) organised for both the geography teachers and interested students are showing that teachers spend nearly two or even three times more time on practical exercises with GIS than students. The figures on Estonian teachers’ age-gender 5

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structure (Figure 2) is showing that the teachers are aging – older teachers are dominating over younger ones (middle-aged women, 45-54, are the dominant group). According to estimations, the picture among geography teachers is the same.

Figure 2. Age-gender structure of teachers in Estonia. Source: Estonian Ministry of Education and Research6.

Despite the fact that all teachers have common ICT competences, most of the geography teachers did not acquire GIS knowledge and skills during their university studies more than twenty or thirty years ago. Therefore, many elderly teachers prefer to use computers as little as possible. At present, every university student majoring in teaching has to carry out some lessons in the computer lab during their pedagogical practice. To sum up: the existing funds should be spent not for producing new study materials, but for in-service education and the geo-media training of those teachers who are not active geo-media users yet. However, it is not easy to reach them.

4. Geography Olympiads as stimuli for using geo-media The Geography Olympiads are the famous phenomenon that also promote geo-media usage by students and develop GIS based competences. 6

Statistical data about teachers of general education: Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Jüri Roosaare, Ülle Liiber

Subject Olympiads have long traditions (in geography since 1965) and they are very popular in Estonia. From year to year, the competition is becoming more serious and intensive because the results are highly recognized. The winners of the National Olympiad and all of the participants in the International Olympiads are entitled to enter Tartu University without further competition for student positions which is a serious stimulus for secondary school students. In 2005, computer-based exercises were first included in the Olympiad’s written tasks for the secondary school level. Students had to find, interpret and analyze some geographical information from internet portals (Liiber and Roosaare, 2007). During recent years students participating in the final round of the competition have to use thematic maps and spatial information from the map server of the Estonian Land Board to solve real life problems. Last year, for instance, secondary school students had to use this server in order to analyze the situation related to the opening of a sand quarry in a parish of South-Estonia: identify different restrictions, suggest a route for sand transportation and make impact assessment.7 Exercises during the fieldwork included the finding of control points by means of GPS and the solving of different tasks there. Many tasks, especially the geo-media based ones from the Olympiad, are later introduced into ordinary classroom work to diversify the teaching-learning process. There is a rising tendency that the more gifted secondary school students predominating in the final rounds of the Olympiads tend to be concentrated in a limited number of elite schools located in the capital city and some larger towns. Nevertheless, students’ interest in geography stems mainly from their school experience, that depends on good teachers (Liiber and Roosaare, 2007).

All of the information about the Geography Olympiads, including suggestions to prepare for forthcoming ones and the tasks of prior competitions, can be found on the Estonian School Geography Website.8 Subject Olympiads grip the contingent of advanced students who are of interest for universities as future professionals. Fortunately, the need for special attention to gifted pupils is stressed by the NC as well. All the work with the gifted students in Estonia is managed and coordinated by the Gifted and Talented Development Centre (henceforth GTDC) at the University of Tartu.9 The main aim of the GTDC is to give opportunities and possibilities for the development of gifted pupils. For that purpose GDTC organizes special sessions for those students who are preparing for the international contests and at the same time offers multiple elective courses for those school students who have a deeper interest in specific fields of science. The courses are predominantly webbased and carried out in the e-learning environment (Moodle at present), that enables students to participate in the course irrespective of where they live and to learn under the tutorship of high-level teachers. Therefore the modern education technology and readiness of pupils to use it are giving new opportunities to all students to get the best possible education in spite of the situation in their home school.

5. Elective course of geoinformatics as a bridge between school and university

Therefore the Geography Olympiads serve as a development engine not only for students but for school geography in general, including geomedia implementation.

An opportunity to create the whole learning environment (including tutorial exercises, slides, videos, interactive tests and feedback, as well as proper support materials for teachers with lesson plans) enabled us to make use of our experience with the Olympiads. Taking into account curriculum requirements, the real situation in schools, good educational practice and our understanding of spatial literacy, certain conceptual pillars served as a basis of the course


8 2012_Otepaa/Internetivoor_Otepaa_2012.png.

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9 Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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(Roosaare et al., 2011). Some of them are as follows: 

Practical orientation. Despite the fact that the course is oriented towards forming working skills (with QGIS or ArcGIS), the aim is to use what one has learnt for the solution of geographical problems (e.g., a backbone question is the school network10 and students’ routes to the school. Access to the necessary detailed geospatial data is via WMS from the Geoportal of Estonian Land Board (e.g. orthophotos of 0.5m resolution) and adapted for learning thematic layers (e.g. schools, settlements, roads) and can be downloaded from the learning environment. Stratification of material. Since the course will be used differently (selected by students with different interests and basic knowledge, conducted in computer class-room or individually, by the QGIS or ArcGIS), the tutor can customize the learning environment and individualize tasks for students.

Flexibility of timetable and in study groups. The latter uses the scheme of the GTDC. We foresee it as a possibility to form more specialized study groups with advanced interests in a more narrow topic (e.g. students learning programming or taking a course in robotics) and supervised by a specialist (e.g. an MSc student). As a result, GIS may be used by students for their research papers in other subjects.

Perspectives for professional career. Connectedness to the professional choices and questions of employability are emphasized as important aspects of elective courses by the NC. In addition to presentations in the study materials, it is possible for advanced students to join email lists and social networks of the professional community (e.g. participate in some events of the Estonian Geoinformatics Society11). It


Situation (described in Sepp and Roosaare, 2013) is explained to students during an opening seminar of the course. 11 One good example resulted from the testing of the course in three secondary schools during spring 2012. Some students already used GIS in preparing their research paper. One of these, about coastline changes Copyright© Nuova Cultura


will also be possible for advanced students to complete the course at that level, which makes it count (by the Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning Project) for university level credits. In 2012-2013 the course was piloted both in the school classroom version (3 schools) and in the mode for individual use (16 teachers and 20 students from different schools, some in-service students). Altogether about one hundred learners went through this course and gave us useful feedback to be taken into account during course improvement. Beginning from the 2013/2014 academic year the learning environment will be managed under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Research (MER), but UT is continuing to support the course.

6. Discussion – towards a more flexible organization of education The importance of teachers for success in education is clear, but the reality is that pupils are better users of ICT tools. They acquire skills in e-activity more quickly than aged female teachers and for them, traditional textbooks are not the gateways to the world, but boring school stuff. There are exceptions, but exceptions are rather a confirmation of the rule. Why are young innovative graduates not interested in working in schools? It is a complex and wide social problem in Estonia (for our good neighbour Finland the situation is quite different) and its step-by-step solution is being attempted by the MER during the ongoing education reform. However, in the case of a small country, where “everybody knows everybody” it is possible to dismantle barriers in education more easily. One good opportunity arising from the ICT technology is a possibility to individualize the learning process. This is also a commitment in order to develop pupils’ skills in the best way. For society, it is especially important that the more talented pupils, our leaders in the future, have the best possible education irrespective of

of Island Aegna was presented in the GIS–day conference and is accessible: Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Jüri Roosaare, Ülle Liiber

their home school and the teachers they have there. The situation in school geography is not bad due to the wide distribution of geo-media equipment (GPS and LBS in cars and smartphones; virtual travel by the Google Streetview to complement real trips of kids and their parents). In order to give a meaning to all the information showering students today they need good tutors and supervisors. The education technology enables us to create inter-school study groups and use a different assortment from the huge amount of existing study material. Formal and juridical restrictions could be solved step-by-step. A key problem is the question of tutors for the courses and supervisors for the research papers. In addition to the active teachers we are involving via the Olympiads, the potential of the Master students at university should be used more and more. This would have a bilateral benefit and maybe contribute to a national “Youth to School” initiative12. Another prospective challenge for school geography is to get ready for forthcoming changes by switching to the e-examination. It is an opportunity to apply more geo-media tools, emphasize ICT skills and students’ geospatial thinking skills (instead of going towards the easier way of factual tests). For that purpose a completely new instruction for examinations is needed, but this is already a topic of another paper.

7. Conclusions The use of maps, geo-media and GIS has been traditionally a part of school geography education, but contemporary ICT enables and favours its wider use, especially in the crosscurricular topics. Increasing emphasis on elective courses by the National Curriculum and the adoption of education technology solutions by schools opens the door for more flexible and individualized teaching/learning solutions. The latter is more important for gifted and talented students.


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The first step forward has been made and a module of technology-based elective courses, starting from 2013/2014 academic year, also includes geoinformatics. Since the implementation of an elective course for very few students of specific interest may be difficult at the level of schools, then a possible solution might be to establish Estoniawide study groups tutored by specialists. Co-operation between schools and universities is widening. Increasing numbers of activities enable secondary school students to participate in lectures, seminars, meetings, fieldwork etc. organized by universities. There is enough learning material on the web, even in Estonian. The need is rather for adequate courses on the effective use of existing materials. Such courses might be oriented first of all to teachers in order to help them reach a certain level of geo-media usage in their work.

References 1. Arrowsmith C., Bagoly-Simó P., Finchum A., Oda K. and Pawson E., “Student Employability and its Implications for Geography Curricula and Learning Practices”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 35, 3, 2011, pp. 365-377. 2. Baker T.R., Kerski J.J., Huynh N.T., Viehrig K. and Bednarz S., “Call for an Agenda and Center for GIS Education Research”, Review of International Geographical Education Online, 2, 3, 2012, pp. 254-288. 3. Cawley M., “Geography Under Threat in Irish Second-level Education”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 7, 1, 1998, pp. 5-13. 4. Conolly G. (Ed.), Geography’s Place: Promotion of Geography in Australia, Australian Geography Teachers Association, Gladesville NSW, 2001, /geographysplace.pdf. 5. Demirci A., Karaburun A., Ünlü M. and Özey R., “Using GIS-based projects in learning: students help disabled pedestrians in their school district”, European Journal of Geography, 22, 2011, pp. 48-61. Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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6. Donert K., “Aspects of the State of Geography in European higher education”, 2007, 7. Favier T. and van der Schee J., “Learning geography by combining fieldwork with GIS”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18, 4, 2009, pp. 261-274. 8. Felsenhauer T. and Quade D., “Society and Geomedia – Some Reflections from a Social Theory Perspective”, in Jekel T., Car A., Strobl J. and Griesebner G. (Eds.), GI_Forum 2012: Geovizualisation, Society and Learning, Herbert Wichmann Verlag, 2012, pp. 74-82. 9. Goh K.C., “The Future of Geography and Geography Education in Southeast Asia: Issues and Challenges”, in Donert K. and Charzyński P. (Eds.), Changing Horizons in Geography Education: Geography in European higher education, 2, Toruń, Herodot Network, 2005, pp. 79-83. 10. Goldstein D. and Alibrandi M., “Integrating GIS in the Middle School Curriculum: Impacts on Diverse Students’ Standardized Test Scores”, Journal of Geography, 112, 2, 2013, pp. 68-74. 11. Goodchild M., “Geographical Information Science Fifteen Years Later”, in Fisher P. (Ed.), Classics from IJGIS : twenty years of the International journal of geographical information science and systems, London and New York, Taylor and Francis, 2007, pp. 199-204. 12. Green D.R. (Ed.), GIS: A Sourcebook for Schools, London and New York, Taylor and Francis, 2001. 13. Gryl I. and Jekel T., “Re-centring geoinformation in secondary education: toward a spatial citizenship approach”, Cartographica, 47, 1, 2012, pp. 18-28. 14. Holt-Jensen A., “The status of geography in Norway; an issue of grave concern”, in Donert K. and Charzyński P. (Eds.), Changing Horizons in Geography Education: Geography in European higher education, 2, Toruń, Herodot Network, 2005, pp. 137-145. 15. Höhnle S., Schubert J.C. and Uphues R., Copyright© Nuova Cultura










“Barriers to GI(S) Use in Schools – A Comparison of International Empirical Results”, in Jekel T., Koller A., Donert K. and Vogler R. (Eds.), Learning with GI 2011. Implementing Digital Earth in Education, Berlin, Wichman Verlag, 2010, pp. 124-133. Johansson T.P., “Finland: Diffusion of GIS in Schools from Local Innovations to the Implementation of a National Curriculum”, in Milson A.J., Demirci A. and Kerski J.J. (Eds.), International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS in Secondary Schools, Springer, 2012, pp. 89-96. Kerski J.J., “The Implementation and Effectiveness of Geographic Information Systems Technology and Methods in Secondary Education”, Journal of Geography, 102, 3, 2003, pp. 128-137. Lee J. and Bednarz R., “Effect of GIS learning on spatial thinking”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 33, 2, 2009, pp. 183-198. Liiber Ü. and Roosaare J., “The role of the electronic textbook in the use of active teaching methods”, in: ‘Has Past Passed?’ Textbooks and Educational Media for the 21st Century, Stockholm Library of Curriculum Studies, vol. 15, Stockholm, HLS Förslag, 2005, pp.106-112. Liiber Ü. and Roosaare J., “Geography Olympiads in Estonia”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 16, 3, 2007, pp. 292-298. Liu S. and Zhu X., “Designing a Structured and Interactive Learning Environment Based on GIS for Secondary Geography Education”, Journal of Geography, 107, 2008, pp. 12-19. Mezösi G., Mucsi L. and Garamhegyi Á., “Educational Innovation and the Market for Geographers in Hungary”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 25, 1, 2001, pp. 11-21. Milson A.J., Demirci A. and Kerski J.J. (Eds.), International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS in Secondary Schools, Springer, 2012. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Jüri Roosaare, Ülle Liiber

24. Milson A. and Earle B., “Internet-based GIS in an inductive learning environment: a case study of ninth-grade geography students”, Journal of Geography, 2007, 106, 6, pp. 227-238. 25. National Curricula for Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools, 2011, 26. Rød J.K., Larsen W. and Nilsen E., “Leaning geography with GIS: Integrating GIS into upper secondary school geography curricula”, Norwegian Journal of Geography, 64, 1, 2010, pp. 21-35. 27. Rooney P., Kneale P., Gambini B., Keiffer A., Vandrasek B. and Gedye S., “Variations in International Understandings of Employability for Geography”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 30, 1, 2006, pp. 133-145. 28. Roosaare J., Aunap R., Liiber Ü., Mõisja K. and Oja T., “Designing a Geoinformatics Course for Secondary Schools – A Conceptual Framework”, in Jekel T., Koller A., Donert K. and Vogler R. (Eds.), Learning with GI 2011. Implementing Digital Earth in Education, Wichmann, 2011, pp. 138-143. 29. Roosaare J., Oja T., Liiber Ü. and Vannas Ü., “An holistic approach to geography as the basis for successful curricula in Estonia”, in Catling S. and Taylor E. (Eds.), Proceedings of the IGU-HERODOT conference, London, Institute of Education, 2007, pp. 279-285. 30. Schubert J.C. and Uphues R., “Learning

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with geoinformation in German schools: systematic integration with a GIS competency model”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18, 4, 2009, pp. 275-286 Segawa S., “The Current Status of Geography in Indonesia”, Journal of Geography (Chigaku Zasshi), 121, 5, 2012, pp. 867-873. Sepp E. and Roosaare J. “Using GIS and spatial modelling to support school network planning in Estonia”, in Stimson R.J. and Haynes K.E. (Eds.), Studies in Applied Geography and Spatial Analysis. Addressing Real World Issues, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012, pp. 95-108. Wang Y.-H. and Chen C.-M., “GIS Education in Taiwanese Senior High Schools: A National Survey Among Geography Teachers”, Journal of Geography, 112, 2, 2013, pp. 75-84. Wheeler P., Gordon-Brown L., Peterson J. and Ward M., “Geographical information systems in Victorian secondary schools: current constraints and opportunities”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 19, 2, 2010, pp. 155-170. Yap L.Y., Tang G.C.I., Zhu T.H. and Wettasinghe M.C., “An Assessment of the Use of GIS in Teaching Geography in Singapore Schools”, Journal of Geography, 107, 2, 2008, pp. 52-60.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 57-66 DOI: 10.4458/0900-06

GIS presence in Geography textbooks – a highway to spatial thinking development? Cristiana Martinhaa a

CEGOT – Center of Studies in Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal Email:

Received: January 2013 – Accepted: April 2013

Abstract It is our intention to present some of the preliminary results of an international comparison of Geography textbooks, worldwide, that we are developing using the assets of Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI). It has been analyzed 43 textbooks from 24 countries dating between 2005 and 2011 in order to know the different didactical approaches of it, like orientations by objectives, competences, skills, geographic literacy or spatial thinking. One aspect that we analyzed in those textbooks, as a case study, it was the approach to GIS (Geographical Information Systems) because they are, as it is said by the reference literature, a privileged tool to develop the spatial thinking in pupils. In this way, we analyzed the textbooks and we identified 3 main groups of countries looking to the approach of GIS in Geography textbooks. It is our intention to present this characterization and some examples of GIS in Geography textbooks that can develop spatial thinking in pupils. The knowledge and the discussion of these aspects can contribute for a better approach and integration of GIS in Geography textbooks in several countries in order to improve the spatial thinking development. Keywords: Geography Textbooks; GIS in Education; Spatial Thinking; Resources for Geography Teaching

1. Introduction The research line about spatial thinking and GIS in Geography textbooks has be developed particularly by Jo and Bednarz (2011), Jo, Bednarz and Metoyer (2010) and Incekara (2010). The thematic of GIS in Geographical Education is a vanguard theme in Geographical Education research nowadays like is demonstrated by the project ( in 03.01.13) and several reference authors (Milson, Kerski and Demirci,

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2012; Bednarz and Bednarz, 2008; Bednarz and Lee, 2011; Bednarz and Kemp, 2011; Gersmehl, 2008; Goodchild and Janelle, 2010; Gryl and Jekel, 2012; Kerski, 2011; Lee and Bednarz, 2009, 2012; Souza, 2011). Exactly in this research line, Jo and Bednarz developed the taxonomy of spatial thinking (Jo and Bednarz, 2009) that they used to analyze textbooks from USA, understanding spatial thinking as “the use of spatial concepts such as distance, direction, and region; tools of

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Cristiana Martinha

representation like maps and graphs; along with the appropriate thinking processes, to conceptualize and solve problems” (Jo, Bednarz and Metoyer, 2010, p. 49), based on NRC (2006) and defending that Geography textbooks can give an important contribute for the development of spatial thinking in pupils (Jo and Bednarz, 2009). Thus, the taxonomy developed by Jo and Bednarz is structured starting from “three

components of spatial thinking: (1) concepts of space, (2) using tools of representation, and (3) processes of reasoning” (Jo, Bednarz and Metoyer, 2010, p. 51). The Figure 1 was made by the authors of the taxonomy and allows us to classify each question or activity in one of the 24 cells of the figure, being that the number 1 represents the minimum level of development of spatial thinking and 24 the maximum.

Figure 1. Taxonomy of Spatial Thinking by Jo and Bednarz (2009). Source: Jo, Bednarz and Metoyer, 2010, p. 52.

2. GIS in Geography textbooks – methodological notes of the research Internationally, in the context of textbooks research, we must underline the Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research ( in 03.01.13) that develops structured research about Geography textbooks (Pingel, 2010; Banerjee and Stöber, 2010; Meyer, Henry and Stöber, 2011). We must underline that our research started with our stay, in the beginning of 2012, in Georg-Eckert Institute for International Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Textbook Research (GEI) that is yet documented (Martinha, 2012a, 2012b, 2013). In this stay we not only enriched our theoretical board but also made the initial collection and scanning of our research sources – Geography textbooks from several world countries. The recent publication of the taxonomy of spatial thinking (Jo and Bednarz, 2009) launched the challenge, unquestioningly relevant for the scientific community on Geographical Education, of it use for analysis of activities inserted in Geography textbooks from several countries. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Cristiana Martinha

Thus, we made the identification and scanning in GEI of Geography textbooks (published after 2005) of a significant number of counties. For each country that we found textbooks of Geography dated of after 2005 in the library of GEI, we selected two textbooks: one of basic education and one of secondary education. We selected and scanned textbooks and then, we intend to analyze the practical activities of those textbooks using the taxonomy of spatial thinking. We estimate that, in average, each textbook has about 600 practical activities, what will

make us analyze nearly 29.400 activities in several languages (that will be translated). Each one will be classified in the three axes of the taxonomy of spatial thinking, in order to know its level (in the scale from 1 to 24 of taxonomy of spatial thinking of Jo and Bednarz). So, we aim to determine the level of each textbook through the averaging of the activities. Thus, we will make content and statistic analysis. We made the research (and the scanning) of the textbooks in the library of GEI. In a demonstrative way, we present next (Figure 2) the textbooks searching platform of GEI.

Figure 2. Textbooks searching platform of GEI. Source:

The Geography textbooks that we are analyzing are identified in the Table 1.

related to the approach to GIS in Geography textbooks. These groups are:

One of the aspects that we analyzed in these textbooks, in a case study logic, was the approach to GIS (Geographical Information Systems) because they are, like it is defended by the reference literature, a privileged way to develop spatial thinking in pupils.

1. no reference to GIS. It encompasses a set of countries where there is no reference to GIS in the analyzed textbooks;

Thus, we analyzed the textbooks and we were able to identify three groups of countries CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

2. reference to GIS only in a theoretical way. It encompasses a set of countries whose analyzed textbooks approach GIS but only theoretically, explaining what is GIS theoretically but proposing no Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Cristiana Martinha

practical activities for pupils about this topic; 3. reference to GIS with an associated practical dimension. It encompasses a very limited set of countries whose textbooks not only explain what is GIS but also present practical activities to

pupils make, presenting webGIS platforms of the country or presenting specific webGIS developed by the publishing house of the textbook (adapted to mother tongue and curriculum of the country) (Figure 3).

Basic Education

Secondary Education


Number in GEI Library


Number in GEI Library


A G-214 (1,2011)1

2011 A G-158 (6, 2010)5

Year 2010

United Kingdom

GB G-594 (1,2011)

2011 GB G-601 (1,2011)



F G/H-218 (1,2011)4

2011 F G-320 (1,2011)



I G-349 (3,2010)3

2011 I G-352 (1,2010)


The Netherlands

NL G-184 (2,2008)2V

2008 NL G-184 (1,2008)6v



E G/H-105 (1,2009)3

2009 E G-72 (1,2009)2



N G-77 (1,2009)9

2009 N G-79 (1,2009)



GD-V 345 (1,2011)2

2011 GE-V-109 (1,2011)2



SF G-69 (1,2010)2

2010 SF G-70 (2,2009)



PL G-161 (1, 2011)3A

2011 PL G-127 (5,2011)3



R G-86 (1,2008)5-7

2008 R G-55 (1,2006)9



BG G-13 (1,2007)5

2007 BG G-23 (1,2004)9



H G-100 (9,2011)8

2011 H G-95 (1,2006)2



IRL G-48 (1,2010)

2010 IRL G-49 (1,2010)3



LT G-32 (1,2010)8,1

2010 LT G-29 (1,2007)9



BR G-29 (1,2003)

2005 BR S-17 (1,2010)



USA G-88 (1,2005)10

2005 USA G-119 (1,2005)



CDN G-40 (1,2006)


South Africa

ZA G-29 (4,2009)10



MA G-7 (1,2005)



WAN S-2 (1,2008)6



RUS G-65 (3,2011)9

2011 RUS G-17 (18,2011)9



TR G-33 (4,2009)10

2010 TR G-30 (1,2001)



No number given


Table 1.Textbooks in analyzing process. Source: Own made.

The distribution of the analyzed textbooks in these groups is represented in Figure 4. We can conclude that the majority of analyzed textbooks make no reference to GIS.

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Only few explain it only in a theoretical way and only few also explain theoretically GIS and ask pupils to solve practical exercises about it.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Cristiana Martinha

Figure 3. GIS platform in a German Geography textbook. Source: Bauer et al., 2011, p. 94.

Some examples are the following Textbook A (TA; Figure 5), Textbook B (TB; Figure 6) and Textbook C (TC; Figure 7). Using these examples, we were able to determine and compare the level of spatial thinking development of each example, using the taxonomy of spatial thinking of Jo and Bednarz (2009). The results are shown in the Table 2 and in the Figure 8.

Figure 4. Reference to GIS in the analyzed textbooks. Source: Own elaboration.

3. Some examples of GIS approach in Geography textbooks and the level of spatial thinking development

About “concept”, the TA was evaluated as “spatial primitives” because the exercise asks pupils to identify the location that is on the map; in “representation” we put “use” because the exercise makes pupils use a map and in the “cognitive process” we put “input” because the exercise only asks to pupils identity elements of the platform but not make them develop cognitive process of “processing” like “explain” or of “output” like “judge”.

Below we present some examples of approach and exploration of GIS in Geography textbooks of different countries. We will privilege “good examples”, or in other words, examples that we considered well done and that can be examples to be followed by textbooks authors in other countries.

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Cristiana Martinha

Textbook A (TA):

Figure 5. GIS in an Austrian Geography textbook. Source: Keller and Schober, 2011, p. 19.

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Cristiana Martinha

Textbook B (TB):

Figure 6. GIS in a French Geography textbook. Source: Hazard-Tourillon and Fellahi, 2011, p. 215.

Textbook C (TC):

Figure 7. GIS in an English Geography textbook. Source: Widdowson et al., 2011, pp. 62-63. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Cristiana Martinha



Axes of Spatial Thinking (in the taxonomy of Jo and Bednarz, 2009) Concept Representation Cognitive Process Spatial Use Input Primitives Complex Use Processing -spatial Complex Use Output -spatial

Level of Spatial Thinking 10 23 24

Table 2. The level of spatial thinking in the analyzed examples of activities about GIS in Geography textbooks. Source: Own elaboration.

4. Conclusions Starting from the general conclusion of our research that Geography textbooks around the world approach the GIS thematic in a very different way, identifying here clearly three groups, it is important now to reflect about the next reflection lines: a) Having great importance the work with GIS for the development of spatial thinking in pupils and being the textbooks still very important in the teaching-learning process, what is the relevance that should GIS have in Geography textbooks of the future? b) Should the Geography textbooks of the future include digital tools for GIS exploration? c) Looking for good international examples, what improvements can be introduced in Geography textbooks around the world related to GIS approach?

Figure 8. Location of the analyzed examples of activities about GIS in the Geography textbooks in the diagram of the spatial thinking taxonomy of Jo and Bednarz. Source: Own made (base diagram from Jo and Bednarz, 2009).

The TB is evaluated in the “concept” as “complex-spatial” because it asks pupils to make “overlay”; in “representation” it is evaluated as “use” because it makes pupils use a map and in “cognitive process” it is evaluated as “processing” because it asks to pupils to explain something but not judge or other higher cognitive processes.

As a last point, we would like to underline that it is not only important Geography textbooks explain theoretically what is GIS but also present to pupils practical exercises with GIS technology. And here, GIS use is very relevant for pupils to develop cognitive processes and spatial concepts of high level when they are using and analyzing the maps. Only in this way we can develop spatial thinking in our pupils in a deep way. Acknowledgements We want to thank the important aid to this research given by Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research under its fellowship program of 2012, especially to the library staff.

The TC is evaluated in the “concept” as “complex-spatial” because it asks pupils to make overlay and use other complex-spatial concepts; in “representation” it is evaluated as “use” because it makes pupils use maps and in “cognitive process” it is evaluated as “output” because it asks to pupils to make a judge about a location. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Cristiana Martinha

References 1. Banerjee B. and Stöber G., “Textbook Revision and Beyond: New Challenges for Contemporany Textbook Activities”, Journal of Educational Media, Memory and Society, 2, 2, 2010, pp. 13-28. 2. Bauer J., et al., Praxis Geographie, Braunschweig, Westermann, 2011. 3. Bednarz R. and Bednarz S., “The Importance of Spatial Thinking in an Uncertain World”, in Sui D. (Ed.), Geospatial Technologies and Homeland Security – Research Frontiers and Future Challenges, New York, Springer, 2008, pp. 315-330. 4. Bednarz S. and Kemp K., “Understand and nurturing spatial literacy”, Procedia Social and Behaviorial Sciences, 21, 2011, pp. 1823. 5. Bednarz R. and Lee J., “The components of spatial thinking: empirical evidence”, Procedia – Social and Behaviorial Sciences. 21, 2011, pp. 103-107. 6. Gersmehl Ph., “Spatial Thinking: Geographical Skills” Teaching Geography, New York, Guilford Press, 2008, pp. 97122. 7. Goodchild M. and Janelle D., “Toward critical spatial thinking in the social sciences and humanities”, GEOJOURNAL, 75, 1, 2010, pp. 3-13. 8. Gryl I. and Jekel T., “Re-centring Geoinformation in Secondary Education: Toward a Spatial Citizenship Approach”, Cartographica: The International Journal of Geographic Information and Geovisualization, 47, 1, 2012, pp. 18-28. 9. Hazard-Tourillon A-M., Geographie, Paris, Nathan, 2011.


10. Incekara S., “The place of geographic information systems (GIS) in the new geography curriculum of Turkey and relevant textbooks: Is GIS contributing to the geography education in secondary schools?”, Scientific Research and Essays, 5, 6, 2010, pp. 551-559. Copyright© Nuova Cultura


11. Jo I. and Bednarz S., “Evaluating Geography Textbook Questions from a Spatial Perspective: Using Concepts of Space, Tools of Representation, and Cognitive Processes to Evaluate Spatiality”, Journal of Geography, 108, 1, 2009, pp. 4-13. 12. Jo I. and Bednarz S., “Textbook questions to support spatial thinking: differences in spatiality by question location”, Journal of Geography, 110, 2, 2011, pp. 70-80. 13. Jo I., Bednarz S. and Metoyer S., “Selecting and Designing Questions to Facilitate Spatial Thinking”, The Geography Teacher, 7, 2, 2010, pp. 49-55. 14. Keller L. and Schober A., Geograffiti, Wien, Westermann, 2011. 15. Kerski J., “Sleepwalking into the Future – The Case for Spatial Analysis Throughout Education” in Jekel T., Koller A., Donert K. and Vogler R. (Eds.), Learning with GI 2011 – Implementing Digital Earth in Education, Berlin, Wichmann Verlag, 2011, pp. 2-11. 16. Lee J. and Bednarz R., “Effect of GIS Learning on Spatial Thinking”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 33, 2, 2009, pp. 183-198. 17. Lee J. and Bednarz R., “Components of Spatial Thinking: Evidence from a Spatial Thinking Ability Test”, Journal of Geography, 111, 1, 2012, pp. 15-26. 18. Martinha, C., “A abordagem dos SIG nos manuais escolares de Geografia – notas de uma comparação internacional”, in Royé D. et al. (Eds.), XIII Colóquio Ibérico de Geografía – Respuestas de la Geografía Ibérica a la crisis actual, Santiago de Compostela, Meubook, 2012a, pp. 16541662. 19. Martinha C., “Competences and Pedagogical Issues in Geography Textbooks – an international comparison”, Eckert – Das Bulletin, 11, 2012b, pp. 67-68. 20. Martinha C., “O desenvolvimento do spatial thinking através de manuais escolares de Geografia – notas de uma comparação internacional e implicações para as políticas em Educação Geográfica em Portugal”, in Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Cristiana Martinha

Fernandes J. et al. (Org.), Geografia & Política, Políticas e Planeamento/ Geography & Politics, Policies and Planning, Porto, FLUP/CEGOT, 2013, pp. 408-414. 21. Meyer C., Henry R. and Stöber G. (Org.), Geographische Bildung – Kompetenzen in didaktischer Forschung und Schulpraxis, Braunschweig, Westermann, 2011. 22. Milson A., Kerski J. and Demirci A., “The World at Their Fingertips: A New Age for Spatial Thinking”, in International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS in Secondary Schools, New York, Springer, 2012, pp. 1-11. 23. NRC – National Research Council, Learning

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to Think Spatially, Washington, National Academies Press, 2006. 24. Pingel F., UNESCO Guidebook on Textbook Research and Textbook Revision – 2nd revised and updated edition, Paris/ Braunschweig, UNESCO/Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, 2010. 25. Souza V., “Fundamentos Teóricos, Epistemológicos e Didácticos no Ensino da Geografia: bases para formação do pensamento espacial crítico”, Revista Brasileira de Educação em Geografia, 1, 1, 2011, pp. 47-67. 26. Widdowson J. et al., gcse geography OCRB, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 67-72 DOI: 10.4458/0900-07

Rethinking GIS teaching to bridge the gap between technical skills and geographic knowledge Stefania Bertazzon a a

Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada Email:

Received: April 2013 – Accepted: June 2013

Abstract Teaching GIS in universities, over the last few decades, has often been applied in focus. Yet academic research is much more than application: epistemology, representation, critical GIS have been gaining an increasing share of research. This trend is paralleled by increasing awareness and sophistication in the professional practice of GIS. Nonetheless, the increasing availability of spatial analytical techniques in commercial and freeware GIScience software, not paralleled by an increased knowledge in GIScience practitioners, raises questions about the maturity of the GIScience user community and the potential consequences of an incautious popularization. Appealing to the average GIScience user by means of friendly interfaces, most analytical functions fail to keep a standard promise of GIScience software: guiding the user through a safe path to a successful application. This lack of guidance is perceived as a gap, the consequences of which range from discouragement to naïve or incorrect applications. Future GIScience professionals should be prepared to look beyond their software interface, and the discipline should strive to maintain its own rules and make its own decisions when it comes to packaging their tools. A key role can and must by played by those who teach GIS in our universities, whose task id to form a generation of GIScientists, not simply of GIS technicians. Keywords: GIS, Spatial Analysis, User, Software, Teaching, Practice

1. Introduction Throughout the short history of GIS there has been a recurrent complaint about the lack of analytical applications: since its early days, GIS has been widely adopted in academic and professional settings, but mostly used for storing and mapping spatial data (Coppock and Rhind, 1991; Wright et al., 1997). Some went so far as to call the lack of GIS analysis a crime

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(Openshaw, 1993), but most would agree that analysis of spatial data was perhaps the greatest promise of GIS. Despite that complaint, a subdiscipline known as spatial analysis was growing: over a few decades, new techniques have been developed, older tools have been refined, the spectrum of applications has been broadened, and algorithms have grown better and faster (Berry et al., 2008). The term ‘advanced spatial analysis’ has come to signify Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Stefania Bertazzon

the distinct object of spatial analysis as a subdiscipline: a range of complex techniques and models, inherently different from the array of elementary spatial analytical operations commonly used in GIS. Over the last few years, advanced spatial analysis has become increasingly available in standard commercial GIS packages and in userfriendly, GIS-oriented spatial analytical products, often freeware. This marks a radical change from a recent past, when spatial analysis was confined to specialized software, often userunfriendly and GIS-unfriendly, owing to its requirement for command lines and scripts, and import-export of spatial data between analytical and GIS packages. In the current software packaging mode, spatial analytical techniques are presented, along with elementary GIS operations, via inviting icons, which in reality conceal complex procedures, whose inner workings are often unknown to the average GIS user. As a result, advanced spatial analysis has become not simply accessible, but even appealing to the broad GIS user community. The objective of this paper is to analyse the growing gap between the potential of readily available analytical tools and user knowledge of those tools. Often GIS is still perceived –within and outside the discipline- as a highly technical set of tools. Consequently, users tend to have little awareness of the analytical potential of those tools and, worse, of the theories and concepts underpinning them. Up until now, emphasis has been on teaching how to use GIS software. In this paper we argue that GIS curricula and teaching practices are the best places where the gap can be bridged. It is in teaching GIS that emphasis can shift from “how to” to “why”, so that users can keep the pace with the growing potential of GIS. Rethinking the teaching of GIS in this direction presents opportunities for GIS as well as for geography.

2. What is special about spatial analysis For a long time spatial analysis has been perceive as a distinct subdiscipline, if already in 2000 one issue of the Journal of Geographical Systems was devoted to a discussion on the Copyright© Nuova Cultura

current status and future trends of spatial analysis, and to the relationship between spatial analysis and GIS (Getis, 2000). At the same time, spatial analysis is strongly rooted in quantitative geography (Baker, 2008). If the phrase “doing GIS” can be interpreted in different ways (Writght et al., 1997), likewise the phrase “doing spatial analysis” is prone to a multiplicity of interpretations; a major distinction is between elementary an advanced spatial analysis. Elementary spatial analysis in GIS refers to such operations as spatial queries, buffering, point-in-polygon, topological overlay, etc. (Burrough and McDonnell, 1998). Advanced spatial analysis or modelling refers to such operations as kriging, point pattern and cluster analysis, spatial and geographically weighted regression, etc. (Fotheringham et al., 2000). Elementary spatial analyses can be executed immediately and directly through the pull-down menu of standard GIS software: a single click opens up a window where the user must choose a number of parameters; once this choice is made, the software returns the results of the operation. Typically elementary analytical operations result in the definition of new geometric entities, the modification of existing ones, or the selection of subsets of entities; in all cases, the newly defined entities inherit the properties of the original ones, hence the validity of the analytical operation is guaranteed by prior choices. The user can choose within a range of parameters, which will define the characteristics of individual applications, such as buffer size or measurement units, but, normally, user’s choices do not impact on the validity of the analytical results. Owing to their relative simplicity and limited choices, structuring these operations into a guided path through a software interface is generally a straightforward matter, and has become the norm in GIS packages. Conversely, advanced spatial analytical operations are more complex tasks, conceptually and computationally; they require the formulation of hypotheses, the definition of models, and often the use of advanced mathematical and statistical tools. An advanced spatial analytical task can be broken down into a series of simpler operations, which are generally performed in a relatively standard sequence, and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Stefania Bertazzon

where typically each subsequent operation is determined by the results of the previous one(s). Only some of these operations are elementary. Consider, for example, a multivariate spatial regression analysis; a typical sequence of operations (assuming that all data have been gathered) includes: define the model’s dependent independent variables; define the model’s functional form; analyse each variable’s distribution; test the correlation among variables; specify a spatial weight matrix; test the spatial autocorrelation in the variables; estimate the model’s parameters; run diagnostic tests on the regression residuals; test the spatial autocorrelation in the model residuals; if any test yields unsatisfactory results, identify the problem and: restart from the appropriate step; repeat, until satisfactory results are obtained (Anselin, 1998). A sequence of operations like this cannot simply be executed through a single click on the menu, no matter how complex the window that would be opened. Some of the analytical steps can be –and generally are- automated, but some of the most important steps, such as model definition, or implementation of specific corrections, require some judgment and the procedure capable of leading to valid results cannot always be automatically determined, prior to implementing the analysis. Therefore, the range of options facing the user cannot be structured in a screen window1. Unlike with elementary operations, some of the user’s choices will impact the analytical results, their meaning, and their validity. Specifically, the choices made during the conceptual steps of model definition and model evaluation will determine the validity and meaning of any result (Getis and Aldstadt, 2004). The end product of a spatial analytical model is not a geometric entity, but a new piece of knowledge about one or more spatial phenomena, and this piece of knowledge does not simply inherit the properties of the entities analyzed throughout the 1 d35688a4502b123cbdfc99afdee (ArcGIS 2013); arn-Use-Regression-Analysis-Tools-Esri-ArcGIS (GISCafé, 2013).

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procedure. It is the choices made by the user during the crucial analytical steps that will determine the validity and meaning of the analytical results (Anselin, 2002). Irrespective of their fundamental difference, current software packages often present elementary and advanced spatial analytical operations on a single software toolbar, where all the operations are symbolized by kin icons, which conceal the diverse fate of their results. As a consequence, when a GIS user, who is accustomed to performing elementary GIS operations, is presented with an advanced spatial analysis via an icon like any other, he will expect to be able to perform the task as easily and immediately as any other familiar operation. He will expect to be guided safely, via structured windows, to valid results. But he will soon realize that this standard promise of GIS software is not going to be kept. He will also discover that help files and user manuals are not that helpful, because they too presuppose some knowledge of the technique, that the average GIS user is unlikely to have. Left alone, he can either drop the analysis, or proceed in the dark, and like a blind man bounce against the walls until he finds a door leading out, but there is no guarantee that that door opens to a valid solution, and he has no way to determine it for himself.

3. Spatial analysis and GIS education It is known that GIS developed rapidly, much as a technoscience, and since its early days it was trapped in the hindrance of its own success (Maguire, 1991). Soon after its birth GIS was big business, GIS literacy was in great demand, and many wanted a GIS education. In the early days, most GIS jobs required low level, technical skills. Consequently, colleges and universities began producing cohorts of GIS graduates, through certificate programs, undergraduate degrees, and eventually technical graduate degrees, such as course-based Masters degrees. Throughout the curricula, emphasis has ever since been placed on hands-on skills, courses had large lab components, and even lectures often had very technical contents. Even at the graduate level, the role of research has Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Stefania Bertazzon

been much lesser than in traditional academic degrees. Arguably, GIS academics have had fewer opportunities than their colleagues to develop as real academics, busy as they were teaching technically-oriented courses, keeping up with a fast-growing technology, and publishing in a discipline where technical advances were often seen more favourably than theoretical contributions (Coppock and Rhind, 1991). In a negative feed-back loop, university graduates inevitably have become more technically than intellectually prepared, and on their jobs they have been appreciated for their technical skills more than for their theoretical background, to the point that they even ended up thinking of themselves as technicians more than intellectuals. These circumstances, and perhaps more, have shaped most current GIS programs. The GIS field is broad and complex: there are many things to learn and very little time to learn them. Should that little time be invested in studying concepts and theories or in learning practical, applicable skills? The choice is too simple to merit any discussion. No wonder GIS professionals know how to perform operations, much more than they know why they perform them, or what they mean. This implies that they possess know-how, more than knowledge: they know (have learned) how to calculate a buffer, but they do not know (have not learned) how to estimate a spatial regression model. It is only reasonable that, when they want to estimate a spatial regression model, they will think of it the same way as calculating a buffer, and they will seek a similar procedure. For this reason, presenting ‘spatial regression’ via an icon exactly like the ‘buffer’ icon is probably the best way of communicating with GIS professionals, the best way to make sure they will perceive it as a familiar and within-reach operation. This approach to spatial analysis does not even take conceptual issues into consideration. Consistent with what they learned in school, GIS professionals will focus on the task; they may be aware that conceptual and theoretical issues exist, but they think of these issues as not part of their task. This appears to be the main problem of past and present GIS education. Not only has the technical focus deemphasized the theories, but the theories, confined to a very little space, Copyright© Nuova Cultura

are taught in a hurry, students get only the highlights. Performance evaluation is based on the student’s ability to achieve a solution, and, as a result, the theory is perceived as something other than the real doing GIS. This problem is not limited to advanced spatial analysis, but to all the GIS tasks that are non-trivial enough that concepts and theories matter. There are two important consequences of the technical orientation of most GIS university and college programs: on one hand, there was little space in these technical programs to teach advanced spatial analysis; on the other hand, GIS professionals were raised and trained as software users . But there is yet another reason why GIS professionals are unprepared to resolve conceptual problems, accustomed as they are to find technical solutions to their daily technical problems, and this reason has its roots outside GIScience. Professionals across the map are increasingly unable to seek and elaborate original solutions to unfamiliar problems, and they are unprepared to revert to other than the usual resources. This tendency is not limited to the GIScience field, but pervades many disciplines and professional realms where userfriendly interfaces have replaced traditional environments, in which users were expected to possess a good knowledge of their tools. Indeed, today’s computing environment is pervaded by this philosophy, whereby the user is relieved of the burden of interpretation and the hardship of choice; he is told what to do and how to do it, in order to achieve, safely, valid results. Only marginal fringes within the discipline maintain their right to interpretation and choice, at their own risk. Paradoxically, the inner circle of spatial analysis professionals remains firmly anchored to this traditional way of computing and doing analysis: they develop, refine, and share their own tools; they even make their tools available, free-of-charge, to everyone. But as they know their tools and they know how to use them, they do not feel any need to enhance their user-friendliness: for this very reason, those tools, tantalizingly presented to the GIS community and beyond, remain effectively inaccessible to the average GIS user. Goodchild (2000) has identified as a “basic tension [in GIS] between the populist view, in which technology is easy to use and accessible to all, and the elitist view Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Stefania Bertazzon

in which only those well versed in the principles of spatial theory and geographic information science are able to use it effectively”.

4. Conclusions The popularization of spatial analysis, achieved by user-friendly software, has lead to increasing numbers of spatial analytical applications, yet not paralleled by improved quality of those applications. This may constitute a turning point that GIS and spatial analysis cannot miss. High quality applications of spatial analysis are in great demand, in important fields, ranging from environmental sciences to medical geography and regional planning. Failure to satisfy this demand can be of great detriment to the discipline of spatial analysis (and GIS) and its credibility. Effective solutions must recognize, for example, that statistical properties are only quantifiable manifestations of qualitative attributes, and poor analyses stems from the disconnection between data and geographic phenomena. GIS software is a product of substantial commercial value; many GIS applications are equally valuable commodities, ranging from spatial databases to maps and analyses. The commercial value of GIS software is probably an important factor in the development of friendly interfaces, which can effectively expand that software market to spatial analysis practitioners. As said, the increased value of GIS software is not matched by increased value of applied spatial analyses. Several alternative strategies can help fill the gap between software potential and analytical applications. On the software side, a complete withdrawal of userfriendly interfaces is unthinkable, but measures can be undertaken to control the current risks, by discouraging an unwise use, for example by rating the difficulty of analytical tasks, like recipes in a cookbook or trails in a hiking guide. However, such measures can only produce technical improvements, but will not impact the quality of applied analysis, as long as users remain unaware of the meaning of their analysis, and a true geographic culture is still missing. Arguably, the best strategy to improve spatial analytical results and to form better GIS Copyright© Nuova Cultura


professionals is to provide a more thorough GIS education in Universities. Achieving this goal will take a long time and conspicuous resources, but it would be a well-worth investment in the future of GIS, spatial analysis, and geography as a whole. As the disciplines of GIS and spatial analysis mature, research begins to move, beyond technical problems, to the profound questions revolving around their theoretical underpinnings: ontology, epistemology, critical GIS, representations of space (O’Sullivan, 2006; Schuurman, 2006). In this process, these disciplines (re)discover their deep roots in geography: geography, not software development or know-how, is the home where answers can be found to the fundamental questions that have started to surface once those disciplines have begun to emerge from their infancy. These disciplinary developments present a unique opportunity for the teaching of disciplines in a way that encompasses fundamentals along with technicalities: indeed, high-quality education cannot be achieved without high-quality academic research and professional practice. Therefore, here lies an opportunity also for geography to re-examine not only GIS, but geography itself through the development of GIS, GIScience, and spatial analysis. GIS and spatial analysis have a perhaps unique potential to improve communication across the social, environmental, health, and physical sciences. Recognizing this potential can lead to an integrated approach to quantitative analysis in the social sciences, where quantitative properties are, often, only the quantifiable manifestation of qualitative attributes. A few simple changes could realize significant changes in GIS education: GIS programs should be expanded, to include a variety of courses on theory and fundamentals of the geographic discipline, and, most importantly, integrated within geography departments, where students can be immersed in environments pervaded by geographic culture. For example, experience shows that often courses on the foundations of geography or the philosophy of science are mandatory for masters and doctoral students, but not necessarily for GIS students. Extending such requirements to GIS students would reduce the noted gaps. GIS curricula should be taught not just by GIS and technical Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Stefania Bertazzon

experts, but they should encompass contributions from a wide range of geographers, so that a new generation of GIS practitioners will possess not only the technical skills, but also the knowledge of geography and appreciation for the unique flavour of spatial phenomena. One important component of GIS education should be a training strategy aimed at exposing students to academic research, by involving them in relevant research projects. This strategy would provide rapid investment return, as those research projects could be enriched by GIS and spatial analytical components. Applying these directions can lead to a significant reduction of the gap between the technical field of GIS and the academic field of geography: teaching GIS can become the means to form a new generation of GIScientists, not simply of GIS technicians. Acknowledgements Much of the content of this paper has stemmed from my applied work in spatial analysis: that work has been variously sponsored by Canada’s Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Health Canada, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, and the GEOIDE Network of Centres of Excellence. I gratefully acknowledge their support. I would also like to thank colleagues and students for many stimulating discussions.










References 1. Anselin L., Spatial Econometrics: Methods and Models, New York, Kluwer Academic Publisher, 1998. 2. Anselin L., “Under the hood. Issues in the specification and interpretation of spatial regression models”, Agricultural Economics, 27, 2002, pp. 247-267. 3. Baker R., “A ‘Caesarian’, ‘Augustan’, or ‘Justinian’ worldview of theoretical and quantitative geography?”, Geographical Analysis, 40, 3, 2008, pp. 213-221. 4. Baker R. and Boots B., “The quantitative revolution plus 55 years: Relevant, testable and reproducible modeling?”, Journal of Geographical Systems, 7, 2005, pp. 269-272. 5. Berry B.J., Griffith D.A. and Tiefelsdorf Copyright© Nuova Cultura





M.R., “From spatial analysis to geospatial science”, Geographical Analysis, 40, 3, 2008, pp. 229-238. Burrough P. and McDonnell R., Principles of Geographical Information Systems, New York, Oxford University Press, 1998. Coppock J.T. and Rhind D.W., “The history of GIS”, in Maguire D.J. et al. (Eds.), Geographical Information Systems, vol. 1, London, Longman, 1991, pp. 21-43. Fotheringham A.S., Brunsdon C. and Charlton M., Quantitative Geography. Perspectives on Spatial Data Analysis, London, SAGE, 2000. Getis A., “Spatial analysis and GIS: An introduction”, Journal of Geographical Systems, 2, 1, 2000, pp. 1-3. Getis A. and Aldstadt J., “Constructing the Spatial Weights Matrix Using a Local Statistic”, Geographical Analysis, 36, 2004, pp. 90-104. Goodchild M., “The current status of GIS and spatial analysis”, Journal of Geographical Systems, 2, 2000, pp. 5-10. Maguire D., “An Overview and Definition of GIS”, in Maguire D.J. et al. (Eds.), Geographical Information Systems, London, Longman, vol. 1, 1991, pp. 9-20. Openshaw S., “GIS ‘crime’ and GIS ‘criminality’”, Environment and Planning, 25, 1993, pp. 451-458. O’Sullivan D., “Geographical information science: critical GIS”, Progress in Human Geography, 30, 6, 2006, pp. 783-791. Parr H., “Medical geography: critical medical and health geography?”, Progress in Human Geography, 28, 2, 2004, pp. 246-257. Poon J., “Quantitative methods: not positively Positivist”, Progress in Human Geography, 29, 6, 2005, pp. 766-772. Schuurman N., “Formalization Matters: Critical GIS and Ontology Research”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 96, 4, 2006, pp. 726-739. Wright D.J., Goodchild M.F. and Proctor J.D., “GIS: Tool or Science? Demystifying the persistent ambiguity of GIS as ‘tool’ versus ‘science’”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 87, 1997, pp. 346-362.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 73-83 DOI: 10.4458/0900-08

Teaching and Researching with the GIS: an archaeological story Paolo Carafaa a

Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy Email: Received: April 2013 – Accepted: June 2013

Abstract The aim of the paper is to present the gradual evolution of standard operating procedures applied both in research and teaching since 1992 by the Chair of Archaeology and History of Greek and Roman art, University of Rome “La Sapienza”. IT tools and GIS applications, in particolar, we developed during this fifteen year to manage large quantities of records and data-sets from wide area stratigraphical excavations and archaeological surveys are also briefly presented. Keywords: Archaeology, Landscapes, Architecture, Research, Teaching

1. Introduction Since 1992, the Chair of Archaeology and History of Greek and Roman art, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, directed by Andrea Carandini (1992-2009) and Paolo Carafa (2009to date), has promoted or has been involved in systematical large scale analyses. Wide area stratigraphical excavations as well as archaeological surveys devoted to the reconstruction of ancient urban and rural landscapes, have been carried out in selected cities and areas of ancient Italy, including major archaeological centers such as Rome, Pompeii. and the Etruscan city of Veii. Applying “traditional” archaeological methods and strategies of investigation, we had nonetheless to face a twofold challenge: to recover, collect and

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analyze large amounts of very detailed, rapidly increasing data-sets on the one hand, integrate the fragmented framework emerging from field collected evidence aiming at wider historical interpretation/reconstruction and cultural evaluation of archaeological and cultural heritage under investigation on the other. In 1998, thanks to more substantial funding opportunities provided by the Ministry of Education University and Research, we could turn to IT tools. GIS applications, in particular, seemed to us the only way of preserving high quality standards for graphical geographical and spatial representations and analyses. Over the last fifteen years, the use of Information Systems has gradually become our standard operating procedure in field and lab research and the core of our teaching programs for undergraduates and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Paolo Carafa

graduates students, fellows in the School of Archaeology and PhD candidates. The aim of this paper is to briefly present the GIS applications we developed during this fifteen year, “archaeologically” oriented experience.

2. Phase 1: intra-site analyses, volumetric analyses and 3D models (1998-2000) Since 1985, under the scientific direction of A. Carandini, research on the northern edges of the Palatino, in Pompeii Insulae VIII, 2 and VII, 9-11 and in the central monumental area of Veii has been carried out. In 1998 we started planning the creation of a computer assisted System able to manage the whole archaeological data-set and to perform automated information recording and elaboration. The first task of our project was to create archives updated day by day with the information collected in the field, in order to extract diachronic thematic maps (phase maps) from them. The computer assisted systems existing then allowed the management and the storing of data with the possibility of limited queries only. Therefore, since our final goal was to quickly develop a stratigraphic sequence to be analyzed phase by phase, we decided to use a GIS as the engine of our final System, as it could reflect our scientific fieldwork procedure. This would have made the reconstruction of phase-to-phase image sets for historical interpretation easier. As our final aim was to develop a methodological and strategic pattern for the study and the analysis of an archaeological deposit, we worked out different operative steps, which gave us some kind of feedback, a continuous information improvement resulting in various layers. The final result will be the output of the information, characterized by a retroactive cognitive value, useful for the screening and for an deeper analytical study of the monumental complex. Firstly, because of the huge amount of data and their typological diversity, we carried out an accurate analysis on previously collected data, both written (Stratigraphical Unit Sheets – SUS) and geo-topographic records (plans, sections, etc.). Secondly, we tried to define a SUS

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standard from the different data-sets, creating a thesaurus of appropriate terms for every class of data, in order to provide the user with a previously assessed data-entry. This was in order to avoid lexical problems and data redundancy. The same kind of analysis was performed almost along the same line on graphic documentation, examining the general and detailed plans and then digitizing them. The main function of our GIS should have been the reconstruction of the relationships existing between archaeological finds and spatial distribution of data. In order to be as accurate as possible in using very detailed and precise (even in geographical terms) information, we decided to use a vector based GIS. Therefore from the first phase of the research project, the computing application requires the definition of an operative path for the normalization of different information through different layers and for the final goals (topographic base reconstruction, overlapping of SU in one file, linking of collected data code to the spatial information through an id). Starting from these premises, we established the following different steps of the research path: a) codifying of data and creation of the database; b) elaboration of the vocabulary and algorithms for the control of data-entry; c) digitizing of cadastral and photogrammetric maps and SU plans making up different layers for each SU; d) geo-referring of digital cartography and attribution of an id code to the single SU graphic representation; e) implementation of cartographic and database data in the GIS vector engine; f) realization of a graphical user-friendly interface to simplify the display of data. The work flow was broken down into different phases. The first one – planning the archives – took a long time for the analysis and the evaluation of problems concerning the data codification. Keeping in mind that the information will be managed by several users (students and researchers), we chose a relational Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Paolo Carafa

architecture, rather than an archive linked together by a primary key. The first archive contains general information about SU reflecting the Ministry SUS standards. The second one is used to record the graphical documentation. The last one is about materials and finds. In order to simplify the data input phase, we created a hierarchical and modular data-entry System that leads the user through the choice between alternative values, using user friendly interfaces developed by us and managed with hidden algorithms. The next step was the digitizing of various maps and overlays (essential for the correct positioning of the finds and the complete visualization of existing graphical data) which allowed us to test our GIS based System. From this moment on, we were able to work out outputs of phase plans directly from the collages of different digitized and geo-referred US plans (“overlays”). As we needed to create several layers for each US, we were obliged to establish precise rules for the digitizing of each single 1:20 map. Then we proceeded to the geocoding of the relational database (with 1:1 and l:n relations), thus establishing different joins and links between databases and associated graphical entities, in order to allow simple and crossed sql queries. At this point thanks to the implemented relational system, the user could easily produce thematic maps and layouts using the sql query functions, also saving the themes obtained in a new view of the same project. Our final task was to create a System capable of managing information and data from new excavation projects (Pompeii just at the beginning by that time) as well as data of already excavated contexts (Veii and the Palatine Hill on-going for a longer time). Considering the specificity of archaeological records, we decided to structure the project in a modular way, each module being at the same time different but complementary to the others. The making and the management of the database and the planning of the final GIS based system are the main elements of the system. a) Archives and Data-Entry. The software chosen for the data-entry was based on a typical relational database, ensuring an exchangeable format for the output data. We

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therefore chose Microsoft Access, a standard used all over the world for the management and recording of data and archives; in order to control the data input phase, we used Visual Basic rel. 6.0, a software with its own source code. Thus we created user-friendly on-screen layouts and we helped the user in the choice of alternative values, selected, implemented and checked by hidden scripts. The core of the database system is the su table, where the SU number is the primary key. The making of combo boxes containing different vocabularies, available for ali the tables, allow us to reduce mistakes during the input operations and to speed up the work. b) Plans and maps. Digitized data. This step presents a few problems in some cases, especially for the lack of control points necessary for the geo-referring. Therefore we created polygons/blocks identifying each SU with its own number as id key. The use of cad for the recording of graphical documentation in an archaeological excavation makes it possible to reach five main goals: • saving time, avoiding drawing operations;



• quick control of the excavation; •

outputs and plotting of thematic maps;

• realization of vector bases for GIS use; • preliminary operations for the 3D model. We used AutoCad rel. 14 for the digitizing of maps, sections, overlays, especially because its output formal (.dwg) is readable and editable by almost all the GIS packages. The use of IT for the management of archaeological excavations is fundamental at least during the recording and the preliminary analyses of the collected data. A correct arrangement of the recorded data could provide the archaeologist with a lot of advantages, increasing the analytical possibilities and the control capacity of the information. Therefore the planning of the computer assisted system to be used on an archaeological site is very important. Having claimed that a single system for the management of all the different archaeological research projects does not exist, Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Paolo Carafa

there are nonetheless some common approaches and problems. Above all, the complexities of physical relationships between objects and contexts in an excavation are extremely important. These relationships must be evident to the final users. However, the archaeologists always try to consider the data as more or less distinctive groups, not correlated to each other, such as SUS, finds preliminary recording sheets, objects, photos, drawings and so forth. Thus we could imagine having different containers available in a tabular form, where the labels refer to the information recorded in the container. Such containers or data tables could be numerous and the data must be classified in order to manage the complexity of the archaeological record as a whole. For example, the information recorded as walls will be different from the information related to floors even if they do have some common data, such as excavation date, fieldwork director, etc. For the final GIS engine we chose a desktop mapping software instead of creating the System ourselves. Considering the power/cosi ratio of the GIS software on sale today and also considering the economic and physical efforts that the making of such a System will require, we preferred one of the most widespread GIS software: esri ArcView rel. 3.1 with some optional extensions. Once the System was ready to operate and the data-bases full of information, we decided to move a little forward and create a GIS based 3D model of the stratigraphic sequence. The selected data-set was collected in one single room (Room VII) of a Pompeian house: the Casa della Pescatrice. The main aim of this new experiment was to test a new standard of documentation, consisting not only of a graphic documentation but also of a research tool. As we decided that our GIS would consider even the neglected aspects of elevation, we put great care in the recording of SU. Never until now had the traditional documentation of an archaeological excavation recorded all three dimensions of space. The few elevations marked on the excavation plans and sections are in fact never satisfactory, because they can not represent the entire profile of the entire SU CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

surface. On the other hand, the SU volumetric data had become in the past years more and more important. Following this idea, we elaborated what we considered a qualified strategy for fieldwork data acquisition. For data recording, we used an electronic total station (ETS) and a digital photo camera. We wanted the documentation strategy to include the survey of control points, borderlines and internal surface points and the photos of each SU. The post-processing phase is based on two data formats: the .dxf files coming out from the ETS and the .tiff digital images. At this stage, our problem was to optimize the survey proceedings and timings; with this idea in mind, a long and complex recording methodology would have been totally useless. Giving the SU volumetric value as the space between its surface and the surfaces of the SUs covered by it, our methodology (i.e. recording the complete three dimensions of a SU) is limited to the survey of the surface of each SU. Any SU has been surveyed with an average of 100 points per square meter. When the SU surface was rugged, we registered up to 400 points per square meter. The innovative aspect of this methodology is the way we have recorded the shape of the US as a solid volume. As a matter of fact, the bottom of a given SU is the part of the underlying US/USs covered by its own projection. It means that the surface of a SU (which we will call upper surface from now on) touches the underlying SU surfaces (SU bottom from now on) in a portion of space limited to its extension. At this stage we realized that the orthorectification of the digital images of SU was necessary. Once the images have been orthorectified thanks to the four control points surveyed by the ets, the photo was geo-referred and linked to the topographic data of SU, following the same co-ordinate System. We decided to use an Arc View extension, 3D Analyst, to build the tin of the upper surface and of the bottom surface of each SU. As those tin overlapped on the borderline, we could see the SU as a single solid. On the upper surface tin we overlaid as texture the geo-referred and ortho-rectified photo. In this way we obtained a jpeg photo, including the values of the Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Paolo Carafa

elevations and two different tin that allow us to calculate the volumetric values. The volumetric count was made by calculating the space between an upper surface and a bottom surface, using the “cut fill” function of Arc View. We must underline also that importing the ortho-rectified and geo-referred photos and points onto a cad we could also produce a “traditional” plan of any recorded SU, avoiding the usual metrical errors occurring in hand-drawing (Carafa and Carandini, 2000; Carafa et al., 2002).

3. Phase 2: large scale analyses and predictive models (2002-2005) Landscape archaeology has been a core interest activity in the frame of our research activities. In 1993 a vast survey program in the Roman Suburbium started, with the aim of reconstructing the changing landscape and analyzing settlement and land exploitation patterns in the area surrounding the ancient city of Rome from the Iron Age (9th century b.c.e) to the Middle Ages (6th century c.e.). GIS was “the” tool to be used to manage this kind of field research (Capanna and Carafa, 2009). One of the most debated items in the recent discussion about archaeological field survey is the relation between so called “archaeological visibility” and the methodology of collecting and interpreting data. In particular, how the degree of visibility – that is how easy it is to see surface scatters of artifacts due to land use – influences the possibility of identifying ancient sites and the related settlement topographical distribution. As is now well know, the more we see the more we find and this means that the recorded site distribution in any survey has not to be considered as a face value but just what land use conditions let us see/find. To avoid such a difficulty, mathematical algorithms have been selected to reconstruct a precise as possible average distribution of sites per square kilometer. We assumed seven degrees of visibility/land use: 1) highest: ploughed fields; 2) good: ploughed fields with plants beginning to grow; 3) medium: fields with growing or grown plants; 4) low: un-ploughed fields or clear woodlands; 5)

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lowest: dense woodlands; 6) nihil: urbanized area; 7) no evidence: inaccessible areas or areas for which it is impossible to recover the visibility degree at the time of previous survey/surveys. Any degree has been turned into a mark/value (1 to 7) to be considered by the algorithm. The correction has been elaborated according to the two following different formulas, in order to eventually compare different values: a) k = d / (i * v) where “d” is for the average distribution of archaeological sites per square kilometer, “I” is for the area investigated by one researcher per day, “v” is for the visibility score and “k” is the “corrected” number of sites to be assumed distributed in the areas classified by the visibility score inserted in the formula (Terrenato and Ammerman, 1996); b) corrected number of sites = recorded sites * (x / visibility score) (van Leusen, 2002). Moreover, using the ArcView ESRI software, we also developed a mathematical procedure to predict the possible density of sites in uninvestigated areas or in areas with a visibility score from low to nihil (Figures 1-5).

4. Phase 3: AIS, The archaeological Information System (2005 - …) Managing excavations and rural landscapes we realized something unexpected was within reach: linking in one Information System not just archaeological records but any kind of document preserving information about objects, places, buildings, events connected to any ancient time and/or place. Since the publication of Forma Urbis by Rodolfo Lanciani (1893-1901), no archaeological map of Rome has been made that contains the discoveries made since the beginning of the 20th century up to the present day. Instead, in 1990 the Carta dell’Agro Romano was produced, a basic tool for the management of the surrounding area of Rome, but now a supplement and a new edition with more appropriate symbolic depiction of sites, cartographically and archaeologically speaking, is needed. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Paolo Carafa

Figure 1. Predictive Model. Flux diagram. Author: Nicoletta Capanna, ES Progetti e Sistemi, Rome.

Figure 2. Predictive Model. Flux diagram. Phase 1a. Managing archaeological records. Author: Nicoletta Capanna, ES Progetti e Sistemi, Rome.

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Figure 3. Predictive Model. Flux diagram. Phase 1b. Assessing visibility score. Author: Nicoletta Capanna, ES Progetti e Sistemi, Rome.

Figure 4. Predictive Model. Flux diagram. Phase 2. Author: Nicoletta Capanna, ES Progetti e Sistemi, Rome.

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Figure 5. Predictive Model. Flux diagram. Phase 3. Author: Nicoletta Capanna, ES Progetti e Sistemi, Rome.

A recent and useful aid in the planning of works in urban areas, although still in the experimental phase, is the Carta per la Qualità, introduced by the new Piano Regolatore Generale di Roma. In fact, the Carta aims to register and quantify the stratigraphic potential of the city. Regarding museums, there is a lack of museums of the city and surrounding area in Rome, except for a few rare exceptions, such as the Museo Civico di Modena and the Museo della crypta Balbi at Rome. GIS could be turned into a much more powerful tool, oriented not just to geographical analyses but also to lost architectures and landscape reconstructions, that is to the creation of scientific images and narratives of great historical and cultural interest: an Archaeological Information System. The AIS – Archaeological Information System – is a tool (protected by a patent since 2006) which, through the use of a new model of specialist information management (which combines the latest computer technology with innovative methods of scientific collection and Copyright© Nuova Cultura

analysis of data), makes it possible to analyze and reconstruct the ancient landscape through the integration and comparison of any type of material, archaeological, historical and cultural “document”. All the classified “documents”, in all investigation contexts, contribute to the identification and/or characterization of one or more of the components of the ancient landscape (individual buildings, monuments, blocks, neighborhoods, infrastructure etc.) Since these latter represent a determined or determinable geographical area, it was decided to assign absolute geographical coordinates to all the elements to be classified transferring and linking them to a current map in a vector format. This format, in fact, makes it possible to break down the graphic object into significant levels in order to obtain thematic plants based on the cognitive needs of the system’s user. The main target of research which created the AIS was to implement interventions aiming at: 

protection and knowledge of the archaeological and cultural heritage – Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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visible and invisible – in the national and international field; 

knowledge and management of the territory and of the heritage of the cultural property;

development and cultural heritage;

development of the economy related to this particular field and to the cultural management;

advanced training.



The first application of this system – thanks to public funding for a total of approximately 1 million euro – was made on the city of Rome, creating a reference model for future projects or developments. An instrument which helps in the study and understanding, relating, enhancing and safeguarding of the ancient city of Rome – and what is left of it today – from just before its birth (in the mid-ninth century B.C. circa), to its final de-structuring (in the mid-sixth century A.D. circa), through the reconstruction of the landscapes that have come down through the ages, is now available. It has not been only a question of updating the available knowledge or, more simply, the archaeological map of Rome. It was necessary to create new images that would give back the physical aspect of the urban landscape and that would bring it to life again. We are not just content with analyzing the many elements still visible of the ancient city. The connections which have been broken through time have been rejoined, between objects and architectures, visible and non-visible buildings to acknowledge the elements that compose the urban landscape. The landscape – urban or rural – is like a number of boxes put one into the other, that form more and more extended and complex agglomerates, beginning from the smallest element: the building. It is an element that can be analyzed by applying methods typical of archeological stratigraphy to rebuild history. Many buildings form a “monumental complex”. Many complexes form a “block”. Many blocks form a “district”. All the districts form a city.

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To make all this comprehensible, a deep innovation in analyses and data collecting methodology was necessary: there must not be any distinction among things, texts, ancient or modern images and monuments; between beautiful and ugly or worthy or not worthy objects. It all contributes to giving back a part of the information necessary to rebuild the context. This System has been developed with a GIS software, devised on the Intergraph GeoMedia software. The cartographic basis is the one used by the local administration to draw the City Plan of Rome. All the ancient structures and the five classes of objects mostly linked to architecture have been filed, classified and put into the databases connected to the System: paintings and stuccos, floors, architecture decorations, sculptures and inscriptions. All the graphic information is in vector format (more than 100,000 “graphic objects” have been included), geo-referenced and non symbolic. The “ancient” documents also include: the slabs of Forma Urbis Marmorea (the enormous marble city map that the Emperor Septimius Severus wanted to exhibit at the beginning of the III century A.D.; the literary sources reportable to buildings and/or pinpointed places in Rome, and ancient iconographic sources (portrayal on coins, relief etc.). The information put into the system is integrated by modern iconography and historical cartography: the first zenithal map of Rome was drawn by G.B. Nolli in the XVIII century and was published in 1748 (obtained by kind permission of the CROMA Centre, Roma Tre University), the archaeological map of R. Lanciani and currently in acquisition of the Rome urban cadastre of 1828. And lastly, geological and hydrographical data have been georeferenced in the area within the Aurelian Walls. The on-line accessibility was made possible of the databases and images acquired and/or produced during the earlier research and the proposed project (plan reconstructions and phase depictions, three-dimensional reconstructions, historical images etc.) through a website called “Imago Urbis”. Due to the system upgrade the web site is presently not on-line and the exact forms of access to the renewed site and to the associated databases still has to be defined The system can be examined in chronological Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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phases or in typologies. So the research can be aggregate in significant contexts and, on the basis of all the available information, the urban landscapes and the architectures can be reconstructed. In this way, step by step and where the research allows it, the ancient city comes back to life, with its landscapes and the relations among the architectures, not only reconstructed but also re-contextualized. Therefore the System has expressed all its scientific capability, but the communication can be enhanced with the intervention of specialists, who we have asked to illustrate some of our reconstructions. The reconstructions – graphic and virtual – preserve the correctness of the analyzed archaeological data to create them, and they lose the coldness and the reading difficulty of the first draft of the information. They are beautiful and comprehensible. The Information System, behind all this, remains the symbol of quality and reliability of the popular elaboration that it sets out to produce, whether it be narrative or iconographic. In this way the research does not only represent a worthwhile instrument for the safeguard of memory and the knowledge of the past, but also for a communication to a wider and non-specialist public (Carandini and Carafa, 2012). All this turned to be a key element also for the educational sphere. Students and graduates have now a IT dedicated tool to manage archaeological record in a contextual perspective thanks to the inter-connection of archaeological historical and any other kind of evidence and thanks to the connections of any data-set to any time and any place. Secondly we, involved in teaching and education, can now explain in a very clear way how evidence can be managed to produce hypotheses and reconstruction. The patterns of our epistemology are supported – and somehow tested – by the AIS/GIS procedures, even in class activities.

usual questions from archaeologists were: “What is an excavation GIS for?” or “How will it be made? Which benefits could I get from it? Can it be used for analytical queries and for the making of historical and interpretative models?” or simply “Will it work?”. Keeping such a situation in mind, our main aim was to create a team able to manage a computer and to use it for its own needs. Our final System is not the ultimate one but, nonetheless, it is functional and useful for the management of our research and teaching activities. More still has to be done. The completion of the activities described above constitutes the introduction to a series of actions and products. The further development of the Information System could form the basis of scientific archaeological, and more general, publications (such as, for example, district guides of Rome). The Archaeological Information System could represent an essential tool for the creation of a Centre of Excellence for University teaching, advanced training, heritage management, for the planning of any kind of works in urban and/or rural areas, and for the professional development of archaeologists and tourism operators. From this viewpoint, one can foresee dynamic integrations of the Archaeological Information System with the documentation and instruments used by the bodies in charge of higher education and urban and rural areas management (cadastral units, references to administrative files or acts, constraints etc.). To sum up: archaeology is a perfect experimental area for digital technology. There are several applications possible, which could help us to communicate Antiquity as a fascinating complexity. Acknowledgements

5. Conclusions Special attention must be dedicated to IT, often used by archaeologists working on computer assisted applications. When we turned to Information Systems, the Copyright© Nuova Cultura

The Author thanks Cristiano Pesaresi, Sapienza University of Rome, for inviting me to contribute to this volume, Nicoletta Capanna, ES Progetti e Sistemi, Rome, for developing the predictive mathematical procedure and Victoria Bailes for revisions of English text and suggestions.

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References 1. Capanna M.C. and Carafa P., “Il progetto ‘Archeologia del Suburbio di Roma’ per la ricostruzione dei paesaggi agrari antichi”, in Jolivet V., Pavolini C., Tomei M.A. and Volpe R. (Eds.), Suburbium II. Il Suburbio di Roma dalla fine dell’età monarchica alla nascita del sistema delle ville (V-II secolo a.C.), Rome, 2009, pp. 27-39. 2. Carafa P. and Carandini A., “Un sistema informatizzato per la gestione e l’analisi della documentazione dello scavo archeologico”, in Carandini A., Storie dalla terra (4ed.), Turin, Einaudi 2000, pp. 293-297. 3. Carafa P., Laurenza S. and Putzolu C., “Stratigraphic excavation from the field to the computer: the Pompeii prototype”, in Niccolucci F. (Ed.), Virtual Archaeology

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Proceedings of the VAST2000 Euroconference held in Arezzo, November 2000, Oxford, Archaeopress, 2002, pp. 115-122. 4. Carandini A. and Carafa P. (Eds.), Atlante di Roma antica. Biografia e immagini della città, Milan, Electa, 2012. 5. van Leusen M., “Pattern to process: methodological investigations into the formation and interpretation of spatial patterns in archaeological landscapes”, Ph.D. Thesis, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2002. 6. Terrenato N. and Ammerman A.J., “Visibility and site recovery in the Cecina Valley, Italy”, Journal of Field Archaeology, 23, 1996, pp. 91-109.

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Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 85-105 DOI: 10.4458/0900-09

Making geography mobile: using location aware technology to improve student performance in physical geography Pamela Cowana, Ryan Butlera a

School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK Email:

Received: April 2013 – Accepted: June 2013

Abstract With the increased availability of new technologies, geography educators are revisiting their pedagogical approaches to teaching and calling for opportunities to share local and international practices which will enhance the learning experience and improve students’ performance. This paper reports on the use of handheld mobile devices, fitted with GPS, by secondary (high) school pupils in geography. Two locationaware activities were completed over one academic year (one per semester) and pre-test and post-test scores for both topics revealed a statistically significant increase in pupils’ performance as measured by the standard national assessments. A learner centred educational approach was adopted with the first mobile learning activity being created by the teacher as an exemplar of effective mobile learning design. Pupils built on their experiences of using mobile learning when they were required to created their own location aware learning task for peer use. An analysis of the qualitative data from the pupils’ journals, group diaries and focus group interviews revealed the five pillars of learner centred education are addressed when using location aware technologies and the use of handheld mobile devices offered greater flexibility and autonomy to the pupils thus altering the level of power and control away from the teacher. Due to the relatively small number of participants in the study, the results are more informative than generalisable however in light of the growing interest in geo-spatial technologies in geography education, this paper offers encouragement and insight into the use of location aware technology in a compulsory school context. Keywords: Location Aware Technology, Geo-Spatial Activities, Geography Pedagogy, Secondary Education, Student Performance

1. Introduction Geography as a subject is on the brink of change in a number of spheres. With the increased availability of new technologies,

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geography educators are revisiting their pedagogical approaches to teaching and calling for opportunities to share local and international practices in response to government trends and curricular developments (Brooks, 2012;

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Baldwin, 2012). From an employability perspective, increased career opportunities in business, government and non-profit organisations exist for those students studying Geographical Information Science (GIScience) due to the transferable skills it offers, such as problem-solving, spatial reasoning and interdisciplinary perspectives and mapping techniques (Richardson, 2008). Indeed, what was once considered as core geographical knowledge, such as maps, is being transformed by the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) but at what expense in terms of time devoted to curriculum content (Cunningham, 2005). The use of global positioning systems (GPS) in association with mobile or handheld devices adds a further element to the technological developments in geography pedagogy. Location aware technology, such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) equipped with GPS and headphones, offer a personalised geographical experience due to the presence of adaptive functionality in both time and space. Where in the past, on-site fieldtrips formed a key aspect of a geographer’s career preparation, it is becoming increasingly likely that the much talked about “virtual” fieldtrip (Stainfield et al., 2000) will become a feature of 21st century teaching due to the increased availability of both location and context aware systems. Indeed, although site-based fieldwork is known to promote both social learning and knowledgebased enquiry, the potential shift towards “virtual” fieldtrips seems imminent in light of increased regulations and economic constraints (Cook et al., 2006; Herrick, 2010). Nonetheless at the heart of all teaching is the learner and the goal that altering pedagogical practices will enhance the learning experience and improve students’ performance.

2. What is mobile learning? Coyle et al. (2007) declared mobile learning as a complex and multi-faceted term as it means different things to different people. KukulskaHulme and Traxler (2005), Sharples et al. (2007, 2009) support definitions that focus on the learner being mobile and unconstrained by the physical space in which they are learning. This may or may not include the use of technology – Copyright© Nuova Cultura

reading a book under a tree could be considered as mobile learning using this definition. However the majority of people agree on the handheld nature of the technology (making the device mobile) and the learner having the freedom to move with the device. For example, O’Malley et al. (2005, p. 7) defined mobile learning as “taking place when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by the mobile technologies”. Typical examples of mobile technologies were suggested by Wood (2003, p. 65) as being “PDAs, mobile phones, laptops and tablet PCs”. Mobile learning is possibly best known for its ubiquitous nature (being everywhere around us) and also being pervasive (embedded in our daily routines so that it often goes unnoticed). More recently Quinn (2011, p. 4) defined mobile learning as “any activity that allows individuals to be more productive when consuming, interacting with, or creating information, mediated through a compact digital portable device that the individual carries on a regular basis, has reliable connectivity, and fits in a pocket or purse” indicating the move to “productivity” and the acknowledgement that mobile learners can be users and also creators of the learning. Mediascapes are just one tool that have found their way into classrooms and are being used for educational purposes. Created by Hewlett Packard (HP), a mediascape is “an experience… rich in interactivity – full of sound and music, images and text, videos and animations, narrative and dialog, all embedded in the space where you’re standing” (HP, 2008). Using a GPS enabled mobile device (eg. PDA or smartphone) and earphones, the mobile device triggers multimedia as you move around a predefined space – it is context-aware. Mscapes can therefore superimpose a digital canvas on our everyday environment making locations “geo-tagged” with multimedia (Loveless et al., 2008) causing the presentation of information (visually or orally or both) as you enter and leave a space. As Stenton et al. (2007) note, it is like a linear guided tour. Depending on the design of the content being presented and the rules used to control the system, personalised Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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rich learning experiences can be created in a lively and interactive manner often adapting the content for the passage of time between visits to the same location (for example, if simulating a battlefield). With geo-spatial technologies of this nature becoming increasingly prevalent in the mobile phones of young people today, the question arises, can we use the pupils’ own equipment in our teaching and in particular, for reinforcing the underpinning premise of geography – space and place.

3. Defining location aware technology Location aware technology, on the other hand, can be embedded in handheld mobile devices such as PDAs with GPS and reused in a variety of locations or educational spaces. The term “location” or “context” are often used interchangeably to describe a particular point in time or space. For example, the statement “at 12 noon I was in a café” defines my location or the context for a particular event. Similarly in discussing geo-spatial technologies, the terms “location aware” and “context aware” are equally common when pinpointing a moment in time and space. Alatalo and Peraaho (2001, p. 1) declare “a system is context-aware if it can extract, interpret and use context information and adapt its functionality to the current context of use”. Similarly location-aware systems have been referred to as those operating in social settings so a number of complex interactions exist such as user-system, system-components, system-environment. The usability of the application is measured as the extent to which it can function correctly in a social context (Mubin et al., 2006). Numerous applications of location aware technology exist ranging from language learning (Fallahkair et al., 2004; Godwin-Jones, 2004; Kadyte, 2003; Ogata and Yano, 2004; Tan and Liu, 2004) to artworks in a museum (Lonsdale et al., 2003) where location, time and the user’s profile are used to tailor the presentation of the content for each user. Informal uses such as authentic conversations enacted in Chinese (Chen and Chou, 2007) with adults learners based on topics relevant to the person’s current location indicate the on-going nature of research

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into handheld devices. It should be noted that activities associated with online inquiry skills offer learners a more engaging environment (Cantu and Warren, 2003; Doppen, 2004; Sunal and Sunal, 2003) which increases students’ motivation, extending their knowledge of the content domain (Edelson et al., 1999) and cultivating students’ ability to use self-directed learning (Lim, 2004). The handheld, ubiquitous and pervasive nature of mobile devices supports these online inquiry skills and the benefits that ensue. However, as Li and Lim (2008) and Molebash (2004) posit, meaningful learning in an online environment can only be achieved through appropriate guidance and scaffolding. Two potential problems that may arise in the mobile learning process are students’ lack of information literacy skills to manage the information presented on the mobile devices (Wallace, Kuppermanm, Krajcik and Soloway, 2000) and the need for high cognitive skills (Wagner, Holloway and Garton, 1999) to process and internalise the information “on the move”. As Ge and Land (2003) indicate, question prompts and peer interaction can be used as effective scaffolding strategies in the mobile learning context. In relation to teaching geography, Huizenga et al. (2009) completed a game-based mobile learning activity centred on Amsterdam city. Location aware devices were used by young people aged 12-16 years in a simulation of the “year and a day” rule of medieval Amsterdam. Despite a number of technical issues throughout the one day event, the young people found the experience engaging and enjoyable and they were motivated to develop their knowledge of this ancient law. It should be noted however that this study was not part of the formal school curriculum. In contrast Facer et al. (2004) simulated the role of a lion in the African Savannah in their two-day teacher-led game with ten pupils aged 11-12 years as part of the formal secondary (high) school curriculum. The location aware experience was situated in the school playing field and the pupils mimicked the animals who were the “hunters” or “hunted” in this virtual fieldtrip. An important finding of this study was the high levels of engagement and motivation that prevailed when the pupils reflected on the Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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decision-making processes utilised in their role as an animal in the savannah compared to the passive, non-participatory attitudes adopted by the same pupils during the teacher-led discussions. Primary school pupils have also experienced the use of handheld mobile devices for locationbased activities as denoted by Wood et al. (2004) and Battista (2008). The former focused on the use of sound to capture pupils’ (aged 9-10 years) perceptions of space and place in their local area. Battista (2008) involved pupils aged 11 years in a project to design and create a personalised interactive piece of fieldwork. The challenge for these pupils was the creation of the location-aware task, especially when they had not experienced a location aware activity prior to embarking on this project. In light of these studies, and others addressing non-geographical topics (Attewell, 2005; Mobilearn, 2005; Chen and Chou, 2007; Burkett, 2008; Li and Lim, 2008; Wake and Baggetun, 2009; Fitzgerald et al., 2010; Lui and Tsai, 2013) the notion of a “virtual” fieldtrip, presented via the PDA simulating being in a different location, may appeal to teachers, pupils and educational administrators or even parents especially if the learning context can be brought to the pupils digitally as will be described later in this paper. Research to date reveals increasing use is being made of mobile learning (typically handheld devices) within undergraduate Geography field trip courses (Jarvis, 2010). However the question remains as to how to assess students’ learning when mobile technologies are being used. Is it valid and reliable to continue using traditional paper-based tests of subject knowledge? Jarvis (2013) reported “a combined mediascape-essay approach… successfully captured the main elements of the learning and teaching experience and facilitated deeper learning and creativity”. In the context of this school-based study, and in the spirit of ethics, the use of a mediascapeessay was deemed inappropriate as a measurement tool for these students. All students were currently completing a two year geography programme culminating in a paperbased national examination of structured response style questions. For this reason, it was Copyright© Nuova Cultura

considered more ethically appropriate to retain the assessment process utilised in the national examination system. As a result, this research compares the use of a teacher-created mediascape anchored in the school grounds, with the hands-on practical process of pupils creating a mediascape in small groups in an attempt to determine which approach is most effective in supporting the internalisation of subject knowledge as measured via performance in paper-based national examination style questions for the two topics under consideration. Although a challenging task, pupils were asked to create the second mediascape as Firth (2011, p. 293) advocates “knowledge becomes meaningful through engagement with the disciplinary practices that govern the creation, validation, representation, interpretation and critique of knowledge within specific domains.” The overarching goal of this research is to respond to the question “Why should geography teachers embed mobile technology into their curricular teaching in a formal school context?”

4. A Learner Centred Education Framework Norman and Spohrer (nd, p. 1) acknowledge that “people learn best when [they are] engrossed in the topic, motivated to seek out new knowledge and skills because they need them in order to solve the problem at hand”. Learner centred education (LCE) uses realistic, intrinsically motivating problems which will spark active exploration, reflection and reconstruction of knowledge and ultimately learning through solving problems over extended periods of time usually in a group. The teacher’s role in this approach is to construct and scaffold the problem-solving process to ensure the intended learning outcomes of the activity are addressed naturally in the course of solving the problem. Ideally students are so engrossed in these authentic learning activities that the underlying instruction goes unnoticed by the learners. Typically the use of LCE motivates learners to improve their performance and to strive for the best they can achieve. From the teachers’ perspective, McCombs identified the four core domains of learner-

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centred classroom practice to be promoting positive interpersonal relationships as the students work in groups, respecting the students’ voice and providing a challenging learning experience, developing higher order thinking skills and encouraging students to be selfregulating within their group, and finally adapting to the individual differences and needs of the learners through scaffolding the learning and instruction. From the students’ perspective, Walczyk et al. (2007) propose that LCE is composed of five pillars, namely, outdoor activities, practical applications, dialogue among participants, teamwork, and opportunities to experiment. Lesh (2006) asserts that these five pillars result in deep learning in students and an ownership and empowerment as active participants to “be creative and to draw upon their unique perspectives to solve problems” (Allen and Lukinbeal, 2011, p. 243) thereby accepting responsibility for their own learning (Lukinbeal et al., 2007). In the context of location aware activities, it is the position of the students as identified by the GPS that triggers the presentation of information on-screen depending on the location of the students. For this reason, the students must be outdoors and able to move around freely in the location making the experience inherently practical and often unique to the pupils who could take different routes in the space. However the usefulness of the LCE approach when using location-aware technology remains under-researched. This study will investigate the extent to which the evidence from using location-aware technology can be explained using the five pillars as described above. Visual evidence of these pillars will be presented in the Analysis and Findings section later in this paper.

5. Research Design The use of action research befitted the embedding of mobile technology into classroom teaching for a full academic year. Kemmis and McTaggart (1988, p. 5) describe action research as “a form of collective self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of

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their own social or educational practices and the situations in which these practices are carried out”. The participants in this study are both the teacher, providing overall ownership and power in the process (Mills, 2003), and the students’ “voice” as advocated in learner centred practice. For this reason it was imperative that data was collated from a variety of sources to ensure a 360° view of the process was obtained. These sources included teacher and student diaries, semi-structured focus group interviews, observations and digital photographs of the outdoor activities, quizzes presented via the mobile technologies and finally the paper-based end of topic assessments. McNiff’s (1994, 1995) model of action research combined flexibility with the option of suggesting a possible solution at an early stage of the cyclical process. Since the solution to be tested was the use of mobile handheld technologies offering location-aware activities in the teaching of physical geography and map skills, McNiff’s model matched the goals of the study. A further verification of the suitability of this methodology was the reported increase in use of action research in other ICT and school-based mobile technology projects (Kukulska-Hulme and Traxler, 2005; Somekh, 1995; Selwood and Twining, 2005; Attewell et al., 2010). McNiff’s (1994, 1995) third stage of “implementing the solution” led to the creation of the Thames mediascape by the teacher as the first mobile learning activity, followed by the pupil-created mediascape treasure hunts.

5.1 The handheld devices Based on the work of Economides and Nikolaou (2008), key attributes of a typical mobile device can be captured in three main categories: the physical characteristics of the device such as its size, battery life, weight, screen size and resolution; the functionality of the device and whether it meets the intended purpose in terms of memory, operating system, being GPS enabled; and finally the ease of use by the learner with navigation and buttons, touch screen, school-based safety features (no internet, email, camera or phone access), quick charge facility and good audio/visual quality on-screen. In addition, evidence of previously successful experiences using a particular handheld device Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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and the popularity of the brand or personal recommendation may also be deciding factors. Although modern smartphones have much of the functionality needed to create and run mobile online learning experiences, their screen size tends to be smaller than that of the PDA and also it can be harder to de-activate communication facilities on a Smartphone in keeping with school rules The robustness of the HP iPAQ 214 used in this study had already been verified in school-based mscapes work (Facer et al., 2004; Wood et al., 2004; Reid et al., 2007 and Quinn and Cartwright, 2009) which confirmed the presence of compatibility between the device and the Mscapes player toolkit, and the availability of maps in a format suitable for this handheld device. While the iPAQ214 was chosen for this year long investigation, it should be remembered that the device itself is only a tool mediating between the learner and the GPS feedback. It is the mediascape which presents the content of the learning experience.

5.2 The mediascapes The base map of the school grounds upon which the River Thames was superimposed was a jpeg image of the school obtained from the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI), imported into MS Paint before being converted into a MapLib file, compatible with Mscape Toolkit (Figure 1). The Thames mediascape was designed as an anchored linear mscape, meaning it was attached to a specific location (the school campus) and linear in terms of forcing the students to experience the regions in a sequential fashion (from the source to the mouth of the river Thames) thus ensuring the key geographical features and processes were presented. In keeping with the requirements of LCE, the teacher was indirectly ensuring that the learning intentions for the subject content were being covered in full via the learning instruction embedded in the location aware activity. As shown in Figure 1, the Thames mscape was anchored on the school campus with the “hotspot” sites containing the teaching materials located in specific positions outdoors.

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Figure 1. Thames Mediascape on the school grounds with hotspots visible.

The pupils were therefore able to walk the length of this “virtual” River Thames from its source in Thames Head, near Kemble in Gloucester (in the tennis courts) to its mouth at Gravesend, to the east of London where the River Thames meets the North Sea (in the school’s overflow car park). At no time did the pupils leave the school campus nor were they exposed to any dangers such as steep banks or hidden hollows in the terrain, steps or busy pedestrian areas. Regions and speakers were used to control the visual and auditory output to the users and these were “grouped” to improve the overall timing and choreographing of the controls for these features as users entered and exited a region. As shown in Figure 1, the majority of the

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learning experience was delivered outdoors and depended upon the presentation of a slideshow with accompanying audio. As Figure 2 reveals, when the pupils entered a hotspot, an image of the geographical feature typically found at that location was presented to the pupils on-screen eg. interlocking spurs, Vshaped valleys and gorges, waterfalls and rapids, meanders and oxbow lakes, sandbanks and floodplains. A voice-over with more specific information about the formation of the landform was provided and at key points (usually at the end of a river stage) the pupils had to complete a short quiz before being able to continue on their journey downstream. The key processes of erosion, transportation and deposition were also

included in the mscape content (Figure 3). At the end of the mscape experience the pupils were presented with a 10 item quiz revisiting the key learning outcomes for the topic. As noted later in the paper, it could be argued that this slideshow could have been presented in the safety and security of the classroom however, the use of the PDAs fitted with GPS, allowed pupils to “live” the walk from the source to the mouth of the Thames in a context which promoted the recall of prior experiences and facilities the mapping of the real with the virtual by remembering the location on the school grounds where a memorable image or piece of audio text or music was played.

Figure 2. Images of subject knowledge content – features of a river.

Figure 3. Images of the erosion, transportation and deposition explanations.

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The second mscape was designed and created by the pupils. Treasure hunts are known to be activity-centred and require problem-solving skills (Pritchard, 2004), two of the core aspects of LCE. In the second school term, the map skills content was addressed via the pupilcreated Treasure Hunt mscape activity. This task required the pupils to work in small groups of 56 students (allocated by the teacher) and pairs of pupils assumed a role in the production of their group’s treasure hunt. For example, one pair may have been responsible for gathering the images, while another couple assumed responsibility for the sound recordings either as background music or voice-overs. Group leaders were responsible for coordinating the process, time management and overseeing the “bigger picture” of how the individual elements of the groupwork would come together in the final product. Relative to the LCE approach, the teacher provided an initial context or historical background on a number of the old buildings still present on the school campus. This information prompted students to build their treasure hunt clues around a particular theme or historical event from the past making an authentic storyline for the mscape treasure hunt. An additional stipulation made by the teacher was that each clue for the “players” was to include at least one map skill. Due to the map skills content being addressed through the design and testing of the clues, all group members participated in this stage of the group activity, a natural mechanism to ensure all the intended learning goals were achieved by all pupils. The additional benefit of using the Treasure Hunt context was the built-in revision process that would occur when each group experienced the other groups’ mscapes and had to use their map skill knowledge to solve the clues. As Figure 4 illustrates, the pupils reused the map of their school campus from the Thames mscape activity as a background for their Treasure Hunt indicating the pupils’ perceived importance of space and location in the natural context as well as in their virtual world of the Treasure Hunt.

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Figure 4. Example of a Treasure Hunt mediascape – Treasure hidden behind wall unseen from Starting point.

The hotspots for each clue were positioned to draw the players closer to the location of the Treasure. All clues embedded knowledge of a range of map skills and real treasure was left in the final location (such as coins of chocolate money, a teddy bear or a bar of chocolate) revealing the pupils’ ability to move between the real and virtual contexts with ease.

5.3 Sample participants The handheld mobile devices were on loan from Ulster Mediascapes, an educational consultancy company offering support to local schools wishing to integrate mobile technologies into their pedagogical practices. For safety reasons, it was agreed by the school principal that the mobile devices would be allocated to one geography class for the duration of an academic year in an attempt to determine the appropriateness of future investment in mobile technologies as part of the whole school

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development plan. As a result, an opportunistic sample of sixteen students aged 15 years were identified due to the interest and enthusiasm expressed by their class teacher who was deemed an “innovator” (Rogers, 2005) in terms of utilising new technologies in the geography classroom. No parallel geography class was available to act as a control group in the study thus removing the opportunity for statistical comparisons on the effectiveness of the mobile technology intervention. Nevertheless, this study offers an in-depth insight into the potential of mobile devices equipped with GPS in offering location aware learning experiences in a formal school context for two core topics: the long river profile and map skills. Ethical approval for the research was provided by the school principal, parents of the pupils and also the pupils themselves prior to commencing the study. No incentives were offered to the participants however the pupils may have viewed access to and usage of the mobile devices when learning geography as an attractive proposition which may have increased their willingness to commit to the study.

5.4 Tools Semi-structured focus group interviews were completed one week after each of the mscape activities to offer opportunities for pupils’ personal views to be shared through conversations thus providing rich data and vital insights into the research from the participants’ perspectives (Kvale, 1996; Cohen et al., 2007). The adoption of a semi-structured interview reflects the age of the participants who need support to “expound the full significance of their actions” (Pring, 2000, p. 39). The focus group interviewees were four students selected at random from the class. To enhance the validity and reliability of the inferences being made by the researchers from this interview data, a whole class discussion of the outcomes occurred one week after the focus group. Any additional students’ comments or alternative views were recorded and confirmation was provided by the class of pupils on the accuracy of interpretation of the interview data.

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Observations during both mscape activities were made via note-taking and also through the use of digital photographs capturing specific “moments in time” as evidence of the broader, transferable skills being developed through participation in the mobile learning experience. These skills are discussed in detail in the next section, Analysis and Findings. Group diaries were used for the second task where the pupils were creating their mscape treasure hunt. One member of each group was allocated the responsibility of recording the collective students’ reflections on at least a weekly basis for the duration of the task. Final reflections on the location-aware learning experience after trialling each other’s mscape treasure hunts were also included in the group diary. This data from the diaries was very effective in revealing the changing attitudes of the students over the course of the mscape creation process, the challenges they faced, any setbacks encountered and how these were solved. It proved to be a valuable record of the high points and low points experienced by the pupils at the key stages of design, creation and testing. The data was also useful in triangulating the inferences being made from the focus group and class interviews completed after the outdoor mscape activities as discussed above. Two paper-based assessments were created based on past paper examination questions on each of the topics in geography. The pre-test for the long river profile was administered immediately before the Christmas vacation and so no feedback was offered to the students. On their return to school in the New Year, the pupils commenced the mobile learning activity for the River Thames. After one week of participation in the mobile activity and no additional teaching, the post-test (a parallel pre-test – with the order of questions altered) was administered to the students. None of the students commented either formally or informally on the familiarity of the questions in the test paper. It is concluded that the Christmas vacation (10 days) resulted in the students forgetting about the assessment and therefore any change in student performance could be attributed to the use of the mscape task. Similarly for the OS map skills content delivered via the Treasure Hunts, the pre-test Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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was administered directly before the Easter vacation and no feedback was offered to the students. After the Easter holiday (10 days), the students experienced each other’s mscape treasure hunts so again no teaching was provided apart from the use of the mscape itself. It is therefore concluded that any change in the pupils’ performance could be attributable to the use of the Treasure Hunt mscape tasks.

6. Analysis and Findings Using LCE as a lens for the analysis of the qualitative data emerging from the interviews, diary entries and observations of the outdoor events, it is clear that the adoption of this new pedagogy did not deter from the cognitive and affective learning outcomes traditionally found in the geography classroom. From the pupils’ comments, the use of the mobile technology and LCE strategies promoted an active, participatory engagement in the two topics and motivated the pupils to assume increased levels of responsibility for their learning. Each of the five pillars of LCE will be used to structure and categorise the discussion of the findings.

6.1 Outdoor activities It was clear from the pupils’ comments that using the mobile technology device was not an issue, pupils were happy to adopt a new style of content delivery. There was overall consensus by the pupils about their enjoyment of going outdoors to use the mobile devices and actively participating in the mscape activities: “It was exciting because it was good to get out of the classroom and you learned better… I liked being active instead of just always listening to information”. “Using the technology outside makes you feel more engaged with the work”. “It was good because you actually went out and did it… and had to figure things out for yourself”. The last comment indicates that problemsolving and the motivation to “figure things out Copyright© Nuova Cultura

for yourself” was noted by the pupils. Additional evidence of motivation appeared in the diaries when pupils felt compelled to assume a leadership role to get the mscape creation back on track or increase the pace of production of the materials needed for their Treasure Hunt. The outdoor nature of location-aware technology also has disadvantages especially if the activity is taking place during the winter months as occurred in the Thames mscape. A few pupils noted “Being outside, having the use the PDA in the cold was the biggest disadvantage for me. I liked it [the mscape task] and enjoyed using it [the PDA] but did not like being cold”. The touchscreen nature of the technology meant the pupils were unable to wear gloves during their first mscape experience and so painful hands and the extreme cold distracted their attention from the content being presented on the PDA screen at times. In addition, the pupils began to rush through the screens so they could go indoors again to warm up. GPS drift can also occur during the winter months causing the hotspot areas to “move” and so images/sounds may not be presented as the designer had intended. The treasure hunt mscape was planned for the summer term – after the Easter vacation – and so the weather was warmer and drier, and there was less likelihood of GPS drift. The impact of bright sunshine on the PDA screen could have been a problem, however the pupils were used to this with their mobile phones and knew how to position themselves to keep the PDA in their own shadow making the screen clearer to read. Not to be disheartened by the bright weather and reflections on the screen, the pupils declared “you always want something to take you out when the weather is good”.

6.2 Practical applications The use of mobile technologies in formal curriculum contexts may be considered quite a challenging leap for many teachers: not just from the pedagogical perspective but also in terms of the focus of control and power moving to the pupils who are expected to assume Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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increased levels of responsibility for managing their own learning. Interestingly the pupils were oblivious to this change in power or authority and looked towards the use of mobile devices as a natural progression reflecting the changes in society in general, saying: “…there should be a place for it [mobile technology]. It brings a more practical element into the subject and you get to experience what you are learning about. Pupils are already familiar with this type of technology so it can appeal to them on a level which textbooks and written notes cannot”. By walking the course of the River Thames (albeit on a much smaller scale) within the school grounds, the pupils indicated that their familiarity with the real physical locations resulted in them creating associations or “mental markers” between the reality and the simulation making the recall of key facts and diagrams easier. For example, at the upper stage of the river the image of the tributaries had the background sound of cows mooing in the fields, as it happened this hotspot was close to some trees on the perimeter of the school grounds and the pupils frequently looked across at these trees for the cows! Similarly, as the River Thames meets the sea at Gravesend the sounds of ships horns and seagulls are included in the mscape and the pupils tended to look towards the main gates and wall where there was traffic on the main road associating the sounds with car horns or skywards for the gulls. In many cases they laughed with each other about these reactions to the sounds however these insignificant incidents were later reported to be valuable as “aidesmemoires” for the subject content especially during the paper-based assessments. In keeping with the goals of LCE to motivate pupils to achieve their full potential, the pupils’ diary entries for the Treasure Hunt mscape revealed evidence of a rise in expectations over time, a desire to “get it right” and to have “great images and sound”. Although stages of the creation process were described as “challenging” and sometimes “overwhelming”, the pupils remained motivated through engagement in the task and applied their knowledge of both ICT and geography in this novel context. As one group noted: Copyright© Nuova Cultura

“Mobile technology gave me a better understanding [of map skills] because you got out of the classroom and you got to put it into action… The use of the technology definitely helped me understand more and if used again I am confident it will make me better at Geography”. The practical application of the pupils’ knowledge of map skills when completing the Treasure Hunt also resulted in a more competitive and individualised mobile learning experience for some pupils who enjoyed the challenge of solving the clues alone. The personal motivation to work individually solving the treasure hunt clues and competing against each other to find the treasure first was in contrast to the more negative comments from another group about the process of creating their own mscape Treasure Hunt. “We would describe creating the mscape as boring and time-consuming. This part wasn’t fun… In future our group would like to simply do the mscape, not create it!”. It is evident from this comment that the pupils appreciated the cognitive and affective benefits of using the location aware mscape activities as a tool to scaffold learning however they dismissed the possible learning opportunities they may have experienced in the process of creating their own mscape Treasure Hunt which required the application of the subject knowledge to a new and novel context of their own design.

6.3 Dialogue among participants During the outdoor activities, the researchers noted “Participants were often heard shouting for joy when they got a quiz question correct. It seemed that the inclusion of questions captivated most participants”. At other times the pupils were singing along to the background music of Cry me a River by Justin Timberlake, as they were walking from one information hotspot to the next. Observations were also made of pupils moving to assist one another if there was a technical glitch with the equipment or if a pupil had missed information about the river and was unable to move on to the next location until they had answered a quiz question. This supportive Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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collaboration and peripheral awareness of others who needed assistance shows the range of dialogue that occurred during the mscape activities, particularly the Thames mscape which was content-rich. For many students there was an unspoken dialogue, a companionship, as they walked in pairs along the course of the River Thames simulation, listening to their individual headphones and watching the on-screen instruction, yet aware of the presence of each other as they reflected on the information at each hotspot. For other students, working in isolation was enjoyed and they avoided dialogue with the peer group declaring: “I was given the opportunity to work on my own and I was able to take in the information. I did not have anyone talking to me like I would have had in the classroom… I was in charge of my own learning and there were no real distractions”. When faced with a problem, they used the media to solve it themselves without the help of others “if you missed information you could either get it from the picture or sound”. In the majority of cases, the pupils were able to replay the information if they became distracted. Due to the knowledge-rich nature of the design of the Thames mscape, there was no real need for the pupils to communicate with each other as each experience was identical making collaboration and dialogue superfluous. In contrast, the LCE approach to the Treasure Hunt mscape, was organised as a group activity making it imperative that the group members communicated and collaborated with one another to ensure the objectives of the task were achieved and the goal of a correctly functioning Treasure Hunt was achieved. When discussing this mscape activity, pupils often referred to it as “game-like” and “fun”, yet motivating and engaging at the same time. The observations of the creation process revealed “animated and lively interactions” between pupils, a sense of excitement and anticipation combined with phases of apprehension and problem-solving. Group diaries reported “brainstorming ideas for the storyline” for the Treasure Hunt and later “negotiating within the group to ensure everyone had an input into where the clues regions would Copyright© Nuova Cultura

be located” or in one group’s case “there was disagreement with where to place the clues but in the end we all agreed, with a bit of compromising!”. Not all dialogue was face-toface, some pupils continued their work outside class time and used online discussion forums, email and instant messaging to communicate with each other. In general, the mobile technology facilitated the transition between individual and groupwork as many pupils utilised the Vygotskian approach of working alone and with more knowledgeable peers when completing the Treasure Hunts outdoors: “You needed the technology to provide the clues and give hints. You couldn’t ask it questions so you chatted to other pupils to solve the clue”. “It was a fun process… when you couldn’t solve a clue you discussed it within the group to get to the next part”.

6.4 Teamwork As discussed above, teamwork existed through supportive dialogue with the majority of evidence arising in the small group activities associated with the creation of the Treasure Hunts. Valuable teamwork which addressed the learning intentions for the map skills topic was facilitated through the role assumed by the teacher. In the first mobile learning activity, the Thames mscape, assumptions about the teacher’s expectations were made by the pupils. Due to the individual nature of the mobile device and headset, some pupils revealed “I thought I had to do the work myself…” while other pupils argued: “The activity provided us with the opportunity to come together. We were all doing the same thing [Thames mscape] so it gave us something in common”. This latter statement may account for the observed “companionship” that began around the middle stages of the Thames mscape, where pupils seemed to come together and walk in parallel with the person located nearest to them, Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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while listening to their individual headsets and instructional materials. Another role of the teacher was the allocation of pupils into groups. Careful consideration was given to the group constitution to provide a balance of skills within and between groups resulting in friends being parted in most cases. As was revealed in the group diaries, this was accepted by the pupils as being a fair process. The interviews further supported this viewpoint as pupil reflections uncovered the personal benefits of this decision: Pupil A: I worked with other people that I normally would not have worked with before. Pupil B: That’s what I also liked about it. Researcher: Pupil C, what about you? Pupil C: You got to learn that you could actually work in a group, whereas before you maybe thought you couldn’t. You also found you could get along with people you didn’t know very well. Due to the teacher’s insight into the pupils’ personalities, the allocation of groups worked effectively and supported the LCE process resulting in all pupils achieving the final goal of a working mscape Treasure Hunt which addressed a variety of mapping skills. Any challenging task faces minor setbacks and can raise concerns, and the creation of the Treasure Hunt mscape was not exempt from these problems. Both the group diaries and also the interviews revealed leadership problems in the groups: “Sometimes you had more work to do than others. That was unfair, at times some people just sat there and it was me doing most of the work”. However in most cases, this inequity in workload was addressed as the “reluctant learners” felt a social responsibility to the group and would re-engage with the tasks later, admitting: “I didn’t create enough work in my group… At times I got confused and lost, and I didn’t know what to do… but you knew others were relying on you and you didn’t want to let them down”. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Despite feeling frustrated at times, sympathy was evident from most group members who acknowledged: “At times some group members overwhelmed with the amount of content”.


However each group found their inner strength and worked through these problems saying: “We all pulled together and worked hard as a team, but looking back on it we had put a lot of hard work into the mscape”. When it came to the outdoor activities with each group completing all the Treasure Hunts (including their own), the collaborative nature of creation process led the pupils to believe that the groups would remain in tact during the outdoor experience of using the other groups’ treasure hunts too: “I was happy to do the treasure hunts as a group”. However as noted earlier, some pupils were keen to compete against their peers to find the treasure first and so “a few in our group tried to do one or two of the treasure hunts themselves. They said that they enjoyed this as they felt they were more in charge of their learning”.

6.5 Opportunities to experiment The initial excitement of being chosen to participate in the mobile learning activities in geography indicated the pupils’ willingness to trial new ideas and to move away from the traditional models of learning that prevailed in other subjects. Referring to the location aware activities and use of the mobile devices, one pupil reflected “It was really different compared to other things we do… No other class was doing this, it was unique”. Other pupils agreed, declaring “It was good to try something different and I would like the chance to experience it again… I thought the treasure hunts were not as serious as being in the classroom. You did not feel under lots of pressure”. Due to the long term use of the mobile devices over a complete academic year, it could Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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be said that the novelty of technology itself would have diminished leaving the GPS-enabled PDAs being regarded as a tool-for-learning and therefore no longer creating a “halo effect”. The pupils’ comments indicate that embedding the technology into the classroom teaching not only altered the teacher’s pedagogical practices but also impacted directly on the pupils’ perceptions of themselves. In terms of developing problemsolving skills, the pupils confirmed that: “It really did increase your confidence because when you figured things out, you felt good about yourself”. In addition their self confidence rose when they learned other new skills in ICT, which they could apply to their geographical task: “ …it really makes you feel good. I was introduced to a couple of different things, such as Audacity and I learned how to use it. I was proud of myself because I learned something new, not only for Geography but for other subjects too”. From a more personal perspective, pupils’ social circle extended as they worked with others beyond their normal friendship group, especially for the Treasure Hunt task. Interestingly these new group formations were sustained during the outdoor activities, instead of returning to their established friends. The mobile devices also provided pupils with the choice of working alone or with more knowledgeable others. Two pupils characterised the synergy between the technology and the person saying: “It all worked together as one. You needed the technology to provide the clues and give the hints but you couldn’t ask it questions so you chatted to the others in the group…”. “It was a fun process between pupils and the technology… When you couldn’t solve a clue, you discussed it within the group to get to the next part of the mscape task”. The ease with which the pupils adapted to the use of mobile technologies and were able to read and interpret the location aware tracking facility on the PDA screen as they moved from one information point to the next, further reinforces the need to consider contemporary geographical Copyright© Nuova Cultura

technologies including location aware or context aware technologies, GIS and virtual fieldtrips. Finally as discussed at the outset of this study, the effectiveness of the mobile learning was being measured via the traditional paperbased examination style questions for the topic of the long river profile and mapping skills. As the pupils were an examination class, there were ethical implications why it was important to acknowledge and use the assessment system which pupils would experience in their national examinations.

6.6 Assessment performance Most pupils agreed that their knowledge of both the long river profile as illustrated by the Thames mscape and also their map skills, from the Treasure Hunts, had improved as a result of using the local aware activities. As one pupil stated “you need the technology to allow you to use the skills which enables you to completely understand the topic”. Although this study is predominantly qualitative due to the small sample size, an empirical measurement of the “effectiveness” of the GPS-enabled mobile technology was deemed necessary. As discussed earlier in this paper, pupils were assessed before the Christmas and Easter vacations and no feedback was offered due to their 10 days of leave from school on each occasion. On the pupils’ return to school the mscape activities were completed and no other teaching was provided. The pupils were reassessed using a parallel version of the original test (with the order of questions changed) and the pupils’ scores recorded. As Table 1 reveals, a Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test revealed there was a statistically significant increase in the test scores (Z=-3.415, p=0.001) for the long river profile assessment and similarly for the Ordnance Survey map skills assessment (Z=-3.521, p=0.000) from the pre-test to post-test. Since no formal teaching occurred between the two tests in both cases and only the use of the mobile technologies with GPS was available to the students, it can be concluded that the use of the mobile technologies is effective in improving students’ performance in the two topics under Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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investigation. It should be noted however, that the sample size is small (n=16) and therefore these results cannot be generalised. Assessment

Mean (s.d) 59.88 (24.73) 73.06 (19.98) 36.38 (12.02)



Pre-test -3.415 (Thames) Post-test (Thames) Pre-test -3.521 (Treasure Hunt maps) Post-test 61.00 (Treasure (16.11) Hunt maps) Table 1. Pupil attainment in topic tests.



7. Concluding discussion The recognition of contextual factors, resulting from changing government policies, has influenced the pedagogical practices of geography teachers (Brooks, 2012). In addition, opportunities now exist for geography teachers to embed new technologies into their classroom practices such as GIS and location aware technology delivered via mobile handheld devices equipped with GPS however as Merrill (2002) and Wang and Hannafin (2005) aver “technology itself cannot make instruction effective nor make learning meaningful”. This study investigated the use of GPSenabled PDAs with a class of sixteen pupils aged 15 years. The location aware technology was used for an entire academic year and the pupils focused on two key topics, namely the long river profile (including landforms and geographical processes) and mapping skills. An action research methodology was adopted and data was captured from pupil interviews, diaries, researcher observations and performance in standard assessments relevant to this age group. As Norman and Spohrer (nd) note “Technology is a catalyst for change… [and] also a barometer of that change providing a perspective on what is working and what is not” (pp. 4-5). The analysis of pupils’ scores revealed statistically significant increases in the pupils’ performance after using the mobile devices to Copyright© Nuova Cultura


complete the mscapes indicating the positive role of location aware technology in promoting effective learning as measured by increased pupil performance. Due to the small sample size, this result needs to be treated with caution. Ideally a large scale sample is required for generalizable results however the current study offers hope and inspiration to other educators wishing to introduce location aware technology into their teaching practice with the goal of enhancing pupils’ learning. Although the computer is seen as a tool for the learners to construct, explore and collaborate together, in this study the first mscape, based on the River Thames, revealed that the pupils were more likely to work alone due to the individualised nature of the handheld device and use of headsets to hear the voice-overs and instruction materials. In general, location aware technology is considered to be a personalised experience and therefore it is not surprising to find the pupils working independently for the majority of the time with minimal verbal interactions. Nevertheless, it was observed that pairs of pupils appeared to converge and walk together, in parallel, listening to the instructional content being delivered. This “companionship” or peripheral presence challenged the perceived individualised learning experience expected by the teacher revealing both the flexibility of the use of mobile devices in accommodating an alternative pedagogy and also the shift in control from the teacher to the pupils when the mobile devices are being utilised. In contrast to the information-rich Thames mediascape created by the teacher and experienced by the pupils, the use of the LCE approach for the second mscape activity required pupils to work in groups creating their own Treasure Hunt mscape. This technological creativity and small group learning is in keeping with Chen and Choi (2010) and the formation of a group-based learning community. Most of the group members sustained a positive and supportive “community” spirit however concerns were raised by group leaders about the unequal distribution of the workload at times. Wiley and Ash (2005) posit that “the interaction between the educational task and the nature or structure of the multimedia environment… is of primary importance in planning curriculum, Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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designing multimedia technology, and researching the effectiveness of multimedia instruction”. Due to the newness of the mobile technologies and also the pupils’ limited familiarity with the mscape software, the tensions between the pupils’ aspirations for their Treasure Hunt and their lack of knowledge of how to achieve their goals using the software resulted in a few pupils becoming disengaged in the task or disenchanted by the overall experience of creating a mscape. Through a combination of discussion and social conscience, the disenchanted pupils were reestablished into the group context and all pupils were engaged with the task by the time they were testing each other’s Treasure Hunts. As Ge and Land (2004) claim “peer interaction and collaboration is advantageous for students in providing and receiving explanations, constructing ideas, resolving conflicts, and negotiating meaning”. Despite these minor setbacks, all the groups successfully created and tested their mscape activity prior to it “going live” with their peers in the other groups. Completing the Treasure Hunts was perceived to be enjoyable and beneficial experience which the pupils wanted to repeat in the future, reinforcing the findings from Wright (2011) who declared pupils were found to be more engaged and willing to participate in their learning when the mobile devices were being used, and they requested regular use of the mobile technologies to support their learning in class. However it was clear that “using the product” was preferred over the “process” of creating the Treasure Hunt with some groups even suggesting they opt out of any future mscape creation activities. The information presented on the handheld devices tends to be multimedia which complements and enriches that available via textbooks as shown in Figures 1-4. The design of the mscapes embedded multimedia into all aspects of the experience as it supports pupils’ learning. Background music from popular culture was introduced as Rodway-Dyer (2011) reported that “audio feedback can help students to reflect on their learning and develop deep learning approaches that are associated with Copyright© Nuova Cultura

higher attainment in assessments”. As revealed in the analysis, strains of the music were heard during and after the mscape event indicating pupils’ appreciation and level of enjoyment of the mobile learning activity and their on-going reflection on aspects of the content. The inclusion of a map of the school grounds with the River Thames superimposed over it, is considered a beneficial strategy for engaging pupils in the activity and assisting students to maintain their attention (Matei, 2010) and retention of formation (Forsythe, 1986), “Achieving location information or being in the actual place helps students to learn and memorise about the learning context” (p. 15) as supported by the pupils comments regarding their ability to recall information using the mental markers from the Thames mscape. In addition, the map of the school grounds was also effective in orientating the students during the Treasure Hunts. In conclusion the broader relevance of this study rests in its contribution to the current calls for change in geographical pedagogy worldwide. The revised curriculum in New Zealand offers geography students greater autonomy and a more participatory approach to learning through the use of GIS technology situated in a problembased learning framework (Kinniburgh, 2010). This study may encourage the use of LCE as an alternative pedagogical approach if location aware technology is available in the schools. In addition the shift in power and control away from the teacher is highlighted in this study due to the personalised nature of the handheld devices. As Wright (2011) notes “teachers of more than 10 years practice are likely to be most comfortable with coping with the potential destabilising effects of introducing unfamiliar, untried tools to a classroom setting” indicating that the early adopters of geo-spatial technologies and in particular, location aware activities may be the more mature teachers whose management style adapts easier to such a power shift. In a study of undergraduate geography students, Rodway-Dyer (2011) revealed that audio feedback requires careful attention of “optimal time length, style, tone of voice, register of language and timing”. These criteria also apply to location aware technology and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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were particularly evident in the first mscape where the very cold weather negatively impacted on the pupils’ level of concentration and commitment to completing the mscape experience. Some students advised a shorter more concise mobile learning experience saying there was information overload at times. In addition, they suggested there could have been an option to “view more detail” to initiate the presentation of more in-depth explanations of the geographical processes which would have allowed the pupils to skip certain parts and finish the experience sooner in the cold weather. In this study, as the pupils became cold they had to walk faster between the hotspots and listen attentively to the information to ensure they selected the correct option to sustain the pace of exposure to the information.

this level of technological investment become dated or obsolete in a few years’ time? These questions should encourage further research into the use of location aware technology within a formal school context.

The major limitations of this study were the presence of one geography teacher, a small sample size of 16 pupils, and the non-existence of a control group for the statistical comparisons. Wright’s (2011) finding that increasing years of teaching experience, increases the level of comfort when embedding unfamiliar, untried tools to a classroom setting highlights the importance of replicating this study with other geography teachers, new and experienced, to establish if professional experience is a determining factor in the successful use of mobile technologies for teaching. In addition it could be argued that the application of innovative active teaching methods devoid of technology could also foster some of the relationships revealed in this study. Indeed Treasure Hunts and orienteering are frequently used as outdoor learning activities to promote authentic usage of map skills. However the use of mobile technology appears to intrinsically appeal to young people fostering a sense of ownership of the learning process and motivating them to engage in informal, personalized learning in which they gain independence and control over the pace and place in which they learn.

1. Alatalo T. and Peraaho J., “Designing mobile-aware adaptive hypermedia”, A Position paper for the Adaptive Hypermedia Workshop, ACM Hypertext Conference, 2001. 2. Allen C.D. and Lukinbeal C., “Practicing physical geography: An actor-network view of physical geography exemplified by the rock art stability index”, Process in Physical Geography, 35, 2, 2011, pp. 227-248. 3. Attewell J., Savill-Smith C., Douch R. and Parker G., “Modernising Education and Training: Mobilising Technology for Learning”, 2010, 4. Attewell J., “Mobile Technologies and Learning”, 2005, viewdoc/download?doi= p=rep1&type=pdf. 5. Baldwin S., “Placing Geography in the New Zealand Curriculum”, New Zealand Geographer, 68, 3, 2012, pp. 211-218. 6. Battista T., Mediascape: Exploring Personal Geographies at KS2 & 3 through Virtual Fieldwork, 2008, uk/ projects/younggeographers/resources/ bradleystoke. 7. Brooks C., “Changing times in England: The influence on geography teachers professional practice”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 21, 4, 2012, pp. 297-309.

Further consideration is needed on the viability of the roll-out of the use of locationaware technology – is the use of GPS-enabled PDAs scalable at a whole school level? How would teachers be trained to use location aware technologies and by whom? To what extent will Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Acknowledgements Grateful thanks are extended to: -

The teacher and pupils at the local secondary (high) school for their willing participation in all aspects of the study;


Ulster Mediascapes for the use of their PDAs and the technical support they offered on site.


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8. Burkett E., “A New Way of Looking? Reflections Upon One Teacher’s Experience of Supporting Learners using Handheld Computers”, Educational Action Research, 16, 4, 2008, pp. 481-493. 9. Cantu D.A. and Warren W.J., Teaching history in the digital classroom, Armonk, New York, ME Sharpe, 2003. 10. Chen X. and Choi J.H., “Designing Online Collaborative Location-Aware Platform for History Learning”, Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 3, 1, 2010, pp. 13-26. 11. Chen C.H. and Chou H-W., “Locationaware technology in Chinese language learning”, Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference on Mobile Learning, Lisbon, Portugal, 2007, pp. 189193. 12. Cohen L., Manion L. and Morrison K.., Research Methods in Education (6th Edition), London, Routledge, 2007. 13. Cook V., Phillips D. and Holden J., “Geography fieldwork in a ‘risk society’”, AREA, 38, 2006, pp. 413-420. 14. Coyle D., Fraser K., Hall T., Hartnell-Young E., Patton S., Shao Y., Wali E., Walker K., Wasson B. and Whitehead H., “What is Mobile Learning”, in Sharples M. (Ed.), Big Issues in Mobile Learning, 2007, 15. Cunningham M., “Why geography still needs pen and ink cartography”, Journal of Geography, 104, 3, 2005, pp. 119-26. 16. Doppen F.H., “Beginning social studies teachers’ integration of technology in the history classroom”, Theory and Research in Social Education, 32, 2, 2004, pp. 248-279. 17. Economides A.A. and Nikolaou N., “Evaluation of handheld devices for mobile learning”, International Journal of Egineering Education, 24, 1, 2008, pp. 3-13. 18. Edelson D.C., Gordin D.N. and Pea R.D., “Addressing the challenges of inquiry-based learning through technology and curriculum design”, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 8, 3-4, 1999, pp. 391-450 19. Facer K., Joiner R., Stanton D., Reid J., Hull R. and Kirk D., “Savannah: Mobile Gaming and Learning?”, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20, 6, 2004, pp. 399-409.

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20. Fallahkhair S., Pemberton L. and Masthoff J., “A dual device scenario for informal language learning: interactive television meets the mobile phone”, in Kinshuk, Looi C., Sutinen E., Sampson D., Aedo I., Uden L. and Kahkonen E. (Eds), The 4th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT 2004), 2004, pp. 16-20. 21. Firth R., “Making geography visible as an object of study in the secondary school curriculum”, Curriculum Journal, 22, 3, 2011, pp. 289-316. 22. Fitzgerald E., Sharples M., Jones R. and Priestnall G., “Guidelines for the design of location-based audio for mobile learning”, Paper accepted to the mLearn 2010 Conference, Valletta, Malta, 19-22 October 2010. 23. Forsyth A.S., “Applications of Microcomputer Search-Type Adventure Games in Research on Spatial Orientation, Place Location, and Memory for Places”, Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Meeting, 1986. 24. Ge X. and Land S.M., “Scaffolding students’ problem-solving processes in an ill-structured task using question prompts and peer interactions”, Educational Technology Research and Development, 51, 1, 2003, pp. 21-38. 25. Ge X. and Land S.M., “A conceptual framework for scaffolding ill-structured problem-solving processes using question prompts and peer interactions”, Educational Technology Research and Development, 52, 2, 2004, pp. 5-22. 26. Godwin-Jones B., “Emerging Technologies Language in Action: From Webquest to virtual Realities”, Language Learning and Technology, 8, 3, 2004. 27. Herrick C., “Lost in the field: ensuring students learning in the ‘threatened’ geography fieldtrip”, AREA, 42, 2010, pp. 108-116. 28. Hewlett-Packard (HP), “Mscapes”, 2008, 29. Huizenga J., Admiraal W., Akkerman S. and ten Dam G., “Mobile game-based learning in Secondary Education: Engagement, Motivation and Learning in a Mobile City Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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35. 36. 37.





Game”, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 4, 2009, pp. 332-344. Jarvis C.H., Dickie J. and Brown G., “Going Mobile: perspectives on aligning and teaching in geography”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37, 1, 2013, pp. 76-91. Jarvis C.H., Dickie J. and Brown G., “Aligning assessment in Geography: An mlearning perspective”, Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference on Mobile Learning, Porto, Portugal, 2010. Kadyte V., “Learning can happen anywhere: a mobile system for language learning”, in Attwell J. and Savill-Smith J. (Eds.), MLearn: learning with mobile devices, research and development, Learning and Skills Development Agency, 2003. Kemmis S. and McTaggart R. (Eds.), “The Action Research Planner” (2nd Edition), Geelong, Vic., Deakin University Press, 1988. Kinniburgh J., “A constructivist approach to using GIS in the New Zealand classroom”, New Zealand Geographer, 66, 1, 2010, pp. 74-84. Kukulska-Hume A. and Traxler J., Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers, Oxon, Routledge, 2005. Kvale S., Interviews, London, Sage Publications, 1996. Lesh R., “Modeling students modeling abilities: the teaching and learning of complex systems in education”, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15, 2006, pp. 45-52. Li D.D. and Lim C.P., “Scaffolding online historical inquiry tasks: A case study of two secondary school classrooms”, Computers & Education, 50, 2008, pp. 1394-1410. Lim B.R., “Challenges and issues in designing inquiry on the Web”, British Journal of Educational Technology, 35, 5, 2004, pp. 627-643. Liu Y., Bui E.N., Chang C-H. and Lossman H.G, “PBL-GIS in Secondary Geography Education: Does It Result in Higher-Order Learning Outcomes?”, Journal of Geography, 109, 4, 2010, pp. 150-158. Lonsdale P., Baber C., Sharples M. and Arvanitis T.N., “A context-awareness architecture for facilitating mobile learning”, Proceedings of MLEARN 2003: Learning

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Pamela Cowan, Ryan Butler r12.pdf. Ogata H. and Yano Y., “Knowledge Map for computer-supported ubiquitous language learning”, Paper presented at the International Workshop on Mobile Technologies in Education (WMTE 2004), pp. 19-26. O’Malley C., Vavoula G. Glew J.P., Taylor J., Sharples M., Lefrere P., Londsdale P., Naismith L. and Waycott J., “MOBIlearn WP 4 – Pedagogical Methodologies and Paradigms: Guidelines for Learning/ Teaching/ Tutoring in a Mobile Environment”, 2005, http://www.mobilearn. org/download/ results/public_deliverables/MOBIlearn_ D4. 4_Final.pdf. Pring R., “What is education for?”, in Little B. (Ed.), Radical Future, ebook, 2000, re.html. Pritchard A., “Introducing New Students to ICT”, Active Learning in Higher Education, 5, 3, 2004, pp. 248-262. Quinn B. and Cartwright W., “The design of a location-based mobile learning system incorporating visualisations of Bush fires”, 2009, 5/f_20099453RAKRB.doc. Quinn C.N., Designing M-Learning: Tapping into the Mobile Revolution for Organisational Performance, Wiley, 2011. Reid J., Clayton B., Melamed T., Hull R., Stenton P., Peirce A., Gidlow C. and Holmes S., “The design of prisoner escape from the tower: An interactive location aware historical game”, 2007 http:// tate hand Prisonersv3.doc. Richardson D., “Crossing Borders: Geography Education and GIS Professional Development”, ArcNews Online, 2008, 09articles/geography-education.html. Rodway-Dyer S., Knight J. and Dunne E., “A case study on audio feedback with geography undergraduates”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 35, 2, 2011, pp. 217-231. Rogers E.M., Diffusion of Innovations, New York, Free Press, 2005.

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64. Royal Geographical Society, “Action Plan for Geography”, 2008, http:// www. rgs. org/ OurWork/Schools/Action+Plan+for + Geography/Action+Plan+for+Geography.htm. 65. Selwood I. and Twining P., “Action Research”, 2005, http://partners. becta. org. uk/ index.php?section=rh&rid=13468. 66. Sharples M., Milrad M., Arnedillo Snachez I. and Vavoula G., “Mobile Learning: Small Devices, Big Issues”, in Balacheff N., Ludvigsen S., de Jong T., Lazonder A. and Barnes S. (Eds.), Technology Enhanced Learning: Principles and Products, Heidelberg, Springer, 2009. 67. Sharples M., Taylor J. and Vavoula G., “A Theory for the Mobile Age”, in Andrews R. and Haythronwaite C. (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of E-learning Research, London, Sage, 2007. 68. Somekh B., “The Contribution of Action Research to the Development of Social Endeavours: A Position Paper on Action Research Technologies”, British Educational Research Journal, 21, 3, 1995, pp. 339-355. 69. Stainfield J., Fisher P., Ford B and Solem M., “International virtual field trips: a new direction?”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 24, 2000, pp. 255-262. 70. Stenton S., Hull R., Goddi P., Reid J., Clayton B., Melamed T. and Wee S., “Mediascapes: Context-aware multimedia experiences”, IEEE Multimedia, 2007, pp. 98-105. 71. Sunal C. and Sunal D., “Teacher candidates’ conceptualisation of guided inquiry and lesson planning following web-assisted instruction”, Theory and research in Social Education, 31, 2, 2003, pp. 243-264. 72. Tan T. and Liu T., “The mobile interactive learning environment (MOBILE) and a case study for assisting elementary school English learning”, The 4th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT 2004), pp.530-534 73. Wagner S.B., Holloway K.C. and Garton E. M., “The effects of Internet-based instruction on student learning”, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 3, 2, 1999, pp. 98-106.

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74. Wake J.D. and Baggetun R., “‘Premierloytnant Bielke’: A Mobile Game for Teaching and Learning History”, International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1, 4, 2009, pp. 12-28. 75. Walczyk J.J., Ramsey L.L. and Zha P., “Obstacles to instructional innovation according to college science and mathematics faculty”, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44, 2007, pp. 85-106. 76. Wallace R., Kupperman J., Krajcik J. and Soloway E., “Science on the web: students online in a sixth-grade classroom”, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 9, 1, 2000, pp. 75104. 77. Wang F. and Hannafin M., “Design-based research and technology enhanced learning environments”, Educational Technology Research and Development, 53, 4, 2005, pp. 5-23.

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78. Wiley J. and Ash I.K., “Multimedia learning of history”, in Mayer R.E. (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2005. 79. Wood K., “Introduction to Mobile Learning”, 2003, display.cfm?page=65&catid=192&resid=51 94&printable=1. 80. Wood L., Williams M., Fleuriot C. and Jones O., “Mobile Bristol: A New Sense of Place”, 2004, nerships/research/publications/docs/2004/p32mo bilebris_geo.pdf. 81. Wright N., “M-learning in a New Zealand secondary school: A case study”, International Journal of Learning, 18, 1, 2011, pp. 575-586.

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Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 107-116 DOI: 10.4458/0900-10

Special didactics of geography Angela Carusoa a

Dipartimento di Scienze Economico-Quantitative e Filosofico-Educative, University “G. d’Annunzio”, Chieti, Italy Email:

Received: February 2013 – Accepted: April 2013

Abstract Geographical knowledge has a didactic heritage which is particularly stiff and mnemonic and has prevented geography from approaching special didactics. New geographies look for a new disciplinary approach by which the teacher uses creativity and keeps up with the different learning paces, encouraging discovery, cooperation, initiative and openness towards other people and other places. Finally, a didactics that emphasises the emotional dimension of intelligence, stimulating curiosity, interest, enthusiasm and motivation. Integration and inclusion imply extreme stances in organizing didactics and methods so that the categories of time and space are shaped according to the “Special Educational Need”. Each problem requires focused didactic, pedagogical and methodological solutions, in terms of personalised plans and adjustments in didactic strategies and methods. The idea is of a special didactics of geography that may provide not only technicality but an authentic training: it is fundamental to regularly implement a methodological approach which makes it possible to tackle tools, languages, knowledge of disciplines and general learning, in an inclusive viewpoint. Such a perspective establishes a dynamic interactive relation between the teacher and the pupils and therefore implies a constant use of the knowledge and skills of any individual involved. Keywords: Exploration, Discovery, Creativity, Inclusion

1. Introduction “These children are born twice. They must learn to move in a world that their first birth made more difficult. Their second birth depends on you, on what you will be able to give” (Pontiggia, 2001)1.


“Questi bambini nascono due volte. Devono imparare a muoversi in un mondo che la prima Copyright© Nuova Cultura

The 2012 Guidelines, as an extension of those dated 2007 and the 1991 Guidance, outline a school whose mission is to satisfy the right to education, care and multiple needs, which is always close to the growth and development rhythms of each individual, which welcomes and enhances skills, knowledge, and experiences that any child holds in his/her identity and history. nascita ha reso più difficile. La seconda dipende da voi, da quello che saprete dare”. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Angela Caruso

For this reason it is fundamental for a curriculum to be flexible, integrated and open, and to unite implicit features, such as relations, spaces, times, materials and anything else. The educational care plays a basic role, intended as focussing on each child in his/her entirety, his bodily, emotional, affection and learning needs; as the responsibility to lead him/her through his/her own development, discoveries, learning, in his/her capacity building and strengthening process, never taking his/her place yet supporting him/her through an attentive educational direction, and indirect and mediated didactics, in an environment which should be intentionally set and prepared. In a school thus outlined, the child is at the core of the educational project, and plays the role of an active main character in his/her development and learning path, made easier through a context which carefully meets the deep need of welcoming his/her way of being, of recognising and appreciating different identities, scheduling the day so that games alternate with learning and caring, organizing the spaces so to allow the child to play, explore, discover, meet, test, build (Bruzzo, 2012, pp. 208-210). An inclusive education makes a quality school, where any pupil is endowed to learn at his/her own rhythm and above all is allowed to actively participate. Differences are understood, perceived as normality and enrichment. Inclusion aims at making it possible, for each individual, to access the “ordinary� life and grow and become an independent person. Inclusion has to confront with a long history of exclusion, culture of dependence, pietism and indifference. On the contrary, integration and inclusion are based on reciprocity, not only the right to help but the duty to learn and to be helped reciprocally. Integration and inclusion imply extreme stances in organizing didactics and methods so that the time and spaces are shaped according to the Special Educational Need2. 2

The idea of Special Educational Needs (BES, Bisogni Educativi Speciali) relates to a broad range of pupils living in a peculiar situation, which hinders learning and development. The term refers to the ICF-CY classification (International Classification of

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Each problem requires focused didactic, pedagogical and methodological solutions, in terms of personalised plans and adjustments in didactic strategies and methods. Where shall we start from? From experience. An experience made of practical, direct and involving participation. A stage of exploration to develop observation and cooperation skills introducing conceptualization, stimulating a gradual and progressive movement from perception to operation, from concrete to abstract, from sign to symbol. This stage makes interaction with reality more and more meaningful and produces significant knowledge contents. Only through specific paths, designed by a careful consideration, organized by selecting contents and certain appropriate material, can a synthesis between practical experience and expected learning and education be achieved. Such a kind of methodological and didactic approach is based on the awareness that the basic contents selected conceal the true complexity of skills and scientific attitudes at the base of knowledge.

2. Special Geography: from exploration to discovery Exploration, observation, interpretation, pleasure of discovery and creativity: these are the keywords for special geography. The ancient static and sciolistic learning makes way for an educator-space, created by tailoring the geographical space according to a variety of elements: senses, perceptions, emotions, motivations, learning, and creativity. Therefore, beside the real territory, a personal, sensitive, emotional territory is built which mirrors human attitudes towards the surrounding environment. Functioning, Disability and Health-Children and Youth Version) and other impacts on the individual with reference to the persuasive, specific, sectorial troubles, both permanent and temporary. The ICF vision is based on a global approach with a conceptual model focused on the health and operation rather than on disability and pathologies. Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Angela Caruso

This is why it is necessary to reshape geographic education starting from its objectives, which are strictly connected to its methods. Methods of geography teaching have a long history. For many years geographic knowledge at school has been merely limited to a long list of information to be learned by heart. Such methods were undoubtedly effective in reaching the objective of storing knowledge yet they follow an epistemological model of descriptive geography which only reported facts without providing any explanations or mentioning their dynamic features. Also later didactic models, which considered geography as a science of relations where the description of spatial structures replaced enumeration, focused on the selection of information and on the connections between geographical objects and players of the territory. In such framework the pupil plays once again a passive role and is given access to a prepacked knowledge which hinders the achievement of a higher level of understanding and intuition (Giorda, 2006, pp. 97-100). This methodology heritage, which is particularly stiff and mnemonic, has prevented geography from getting close to special didactics. For this reason a new teaching approach is necessary, by which the teacher uses creativity and keeps up with the different learning paces, encouraging discovery, cooperation, initiative and openness towards other people and other places. Finally, a didactics of geography which emphasises the emotional dimension of intelligence, stimulating curiosity, interest, enthusiasm and motivation. Emotions have an impact on the acquisition and development of knowledge, they make the individual the explorer of the surrounding world, and they emphasize the desire to discover the external reality and prepare to engage in the travel to get to know the world and the others (Bruni, 2008, pp. 93-98). All this because emotions and cognitive processes are interdependent; it is impossible to think, choose and act in a rational and mature way without going through a personal path of emotional literacy (Contini, 2006, p. 3). Copyright© Nuova Cultura


In this perspective, educating to emotions means bolstering intrapersonal and interpersonal meta-cognitive and problem solving processes which facilitate the encounter with others and, above all, the contact with diversity, that is often rejected rather than perceived as enrichment and added valued (Morganti, 2012, p. 20). Neither can the new knowledge be disconnected from it cognitive matrix. No learning turns into being effective if taken out from previous achievements. It is necessary to devise involving and playful methods to perform initial assessments of consolidated learning, on which the new ones can be successfully built, in a continuous process of knowledge and capacity building. Without forgetting that the learning individual must play an active role in knowledge building and be directly involved in the research and discovery process. “In daily didactics, a heuristic approach, always focused on the learning individual and which implements as many workshop activities as possible, is more likely to prevent the risk of passive reception, lack of interest and the following failure or dispersion” (Pasquinelli d’Allegra, 2011, pp. 51, 50). The idea is of a workshop didactics that may provide not only technicality but an authentic training: it is fundamental to regularly implement a methodological approach which allows tackling tools, languages, knowledge of disciplines and general learning, in an inclusive view. Such a perspective establishes a dynamic and interactive relation between the teacher and the pupils and therefore implies a constant use of the knowledge and skills of any individual involved (Dellucca, 2010, p. 12). Indeed the etymology of the word “emotion” itself, from the Latin verb moveo, meaning “to move”, indicates that emotions are inclinations to movement, dynamism and action (Morganti, 2012, p. 33). An inclusive geography is fed with these principles and is based on inductive methods that use a workshop, constructive and cooperative didactics. Certainly science is a key factor for special geography also. The didactic material must be structured Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Angela Caruso

interactive technologies, in highly interactive didactic contexts, in highly operational didactic and meaningful contexts);

according to a precise methodological model, which defines general objectives, specifying their characteristics and the reasons for the choice taken (Lucchesi, 1992, p. 76). 

adjustment of space and time: longer and more relaxed delays and more breaks or a more functional space structure, removing distraction factors and adding helpful elements in the learning environment;

aids: enrichment of the learning context by different types of aids: clues and objective incentives that help in the different stages of the task to be carried out (colours, pictures, cognitive maps, additional explications, relevant models to “show how to do”, advance organizers, various aids to memorize, various aids to plan actions);

simplification: simplifying the learning task, which means modifying the lexicon or whatever provides the information to be understood, reducing the complexity of the concepts splitting their processing, by simpler materials and examples, simplifying the criteria of correct answering (allow a higher number of errors, inaccuracy, vagueness);

the basic core: identifying the basic core of the discipline in the curriculum which can be easily turned into accessible and meaningful objectives;

the culture of the task: the search for opportunities to involve the pupil in significant processing moments or in the use of curricular skills, so that the pupil may test “the culture of the task” (the emotional atmosphere, the cognitive desire, the processed products etc.).

3. The “special normality” of geographic knowledge Special didactics requires the need for both normality and speciality, two different concepts which will be equally kept in consideration. The need for “normality” has an essential value (I am the same as the others, I have their same rights, I have the same opportunities) and an instrumental value (doing the same things the others do), both of which generate psychological wellbeing, self-esteem, social identity and meaningful learning. While the need for “speciality” requires specific needs (communicative, relational, cognitive) and thus educational and didactic actions (languages, methods, tools). Dario Ianes (2006) speaks about a special normality, meaning integrated qualities that consider expectations, objectives, practices and activities for all pupils, with no exclusions, in the ordinary training offer, enriched with a specific technicality based on scientific data and required by new challenges of special educational needs. From normal to special, normality enriched with speciality, moving through subsequent and rising levels of speciality, if necessary, to using even very technical and specialized resources. Geographic learning, in its specialities, requires actions that leverage a practical dimension, learning by discovering through the use of specific strategies of adjustment, such as: 

replacement: “translating” the input into a different code or language and/or using different output methods (it is not a real simplification, rather it is a special attention on accessibility conditions); re-framing: refers to different presentation methods and different treatment of learning materials (with different people, in functional real environments, with more motivating and

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4. Geographic Images: a precious resource for special geography Images contribute to the education of individuals, acting as a didactic catalyst which motivates and optimizes the teaching and learning times. Geography, more than other teachings, has its Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Angela Caruso


epistemology based on iconology, in a framework of observation and discovery where representation becomes identification. In this sense the geographic map and, more in general, images of the world become a motivating and capturing tool for immediate knowledge which develops through eye perception.

add, taken out of any contexts) only, but also on know-how’ (De Vecchis and Morri, 2010, pp. 78). Rousseau’s method of teaching geography is the one adopted by the best contemporary pedagogy, which embraces the principle of starting from reality and the need for making use of the very activities of the pupil.

From a didactic point of view, images have a dual connotation: one refers to the pleasure to see beyond the image through fantasy and imagination; the other refers to their direct contact with the individual, with no need for an interface. Images will be included in didactics both because they are an efficient tool in conveying knowledge and because they make the “playful” didactic envisaged by (1988) real. This is not intended to turn the teaching/learning process into a game, yet it underlines the tendency to make the individual participating more lively to the learning effort. The production of images for school, and education, has been a constant element in the European pedagogical culture for the last three centuries, although their use has never been generalized beyond certain minimum levels (Farné, 2002, pp. 8-14).

Children love geographic maps, which they find fascinating and amazing. Maps let the child travel and “Imagine cold and hot, billions of people like him or different from him, domestic or wild animals […]. A map is like a very odd bestiary, but it is also a world that the child may discover through the strength of his/her developing intelligence, through words to voice ideas, scales and numbers to count, latitudes and longitudes to measure, lines and points as reference, colours to mark differences, towns and Countries, hence to locate in the space” (Frémont, 2007, p. 47).

4.1. The geographic map “Moreover, what he needs is not an exact knowledge of local topography, but how to find out for himself. No matter whether he carries maps in his head provided he understands what they mean, and has a clear idea of the art of making them. See what a difference there is already between the knowledge of your scholars and the ignorance of mine. They learn maps, he makes them” (Rousseau, 1762, eng. transl., available at In Book III of Emile, Rousseau develops some topics which provide precious food for geographic thought, especially in the chapter entitled “A study of nature: cosmography and geography”. This modern Genevan defines the teaching of geography through the signs of nature and reality with which Emile enters into contact. What stands out is a ’derision for bookish, notion based geography, to be learnt by heart, compared to a practical and active one, which does not pivot on knowledge (and let me Copyright© Nuova Cultura

The geographic map is a recurring tool necessary to space orientation going from daily routes to the imaginary journey of dreams /desires, to practical reality. From the first years of life, it will become a familiar element, an aid to store notions and become competent in reading and interpreting. The geographic map is simply a talking image: we cannot only get mere data from it, but also weather, landscapes, population, economies, wars, as well as summer festivals, beaches, museums, archaeological sites, holidays and many more. It lets you dream through long and short distances and acquire the ability to move in an unknown space. Its bright colours, like those of children’s drawings, are attractive and stimulate rational reasoning: it is the door to geographic knowledge. Succeeding in making young pupils understand that geographic knowledge is part of our daily life, our movements and even of our decisions and desires, would make their approach less cool and more enthusiastic. This is the first geography, the key to open the most complex, yet fascinating, scientific knowledge. And again: motivation, discovery, emotions crucially affect the acquisition and the development of knowledge. Emotional Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Angela Caruso

knowledge is unaware, in the sense that its processing comes from experience and not from a meditative mechanism leading to aware knowledge and, in other terms, to that knowledge of knowledge (Bruni, 2008, pp. 9398).

4.2. Geographic images on the world wide web Nowadays, on the Web maps are threedimensional, they become alive and they quickly adjust to the individual needs. The world becomes closer and everything seems more accessible. “In the span of two or three generations maps have undergone many changes. Very often in schools it is still hanging near the blackboard, like a flag of past times since children today prefer the keyboard of a computer. Yet discovering a map is as much astonishing, certainly less shrouded in mystery, and maybe more whirling. Nevertheless, the map has become just one of the many elements in contemporary world, made of words, signs and images, an endless game. Geography has changed; the world has changes and even children have changed today” (Frémont, 2007, p. 48). Information technology empowers cartography, the map enters the era of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) thus triggering an actual technical revolution, upsetting its methods, strategies and objectives, outlining a new geography, which is no more representative but identifying. In which way? Through sources: cartographic, satellite, photographic, artistic, literary, documentary sources and many others. Google Maps, Google Heart, YouTube, Social Network and the entire online world allow the old static and notionbased knowledge to become alive and take shape. “Even enthusiastic attitudes have been reported in many children, at first in recognizing the places of daily experience and later in penetrating those places they wish to visit and where they can take a virtual tour in the meanwhile” (Pesaresi, 2011a, p. 137). The Network has plenty of geographic

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resources which turn useful both to the teacher, in order to efficiently plan didactics, and to the student, in order to acquire significant knowledge. Here is a list of useful websites to get virtual atlases, cartographic materials, satellite images, photos, videos and many more. 






< geografia.htm>;


<> Google Earth is a geographic atlas which helps you to discover the world in 3D and allows you to observe the world through a collage of maps and satellite images. With this software you can flutter on the Grand Canyon or drop in the middle of the Coliseum, penetrate into deep space and discover galaxies and constellations, explore the Moon and feel like the first man in space, dive into oceans or go back in time to find out landscape changes;

<> MioMondo Web is a useful program for teachers searching for new methods and new strategies to teach geography. Its versatility makes it helpful for a crossdiscipline didactics. It is an Italian software which represents the territory through a hypertext made up of multimedia contents (images, audio, videos, texts);

<> Marble is an open source virtual atlas, an alternative to Google Earth, Nasa World Wind and alike. It allows you to quickly change the maps in use and the methods they are displayed; Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Angela Caruso

<> Earth3D is a virtual geographic atlas. It uses images from different sources to create a virtual world map that can be explored thoroughly. It is an open source alternative to Google Earth, and offers a variety of image libraries.

5. A sensory geography for autism 5.1. Foreword 3

Autism is considered as one of the most controversial and doubtful disorders in children psychology. The autistic syndrome is a pervasive developmental disorder affecting various brain functions and lasts for the entire lifespan of the affected person. Despite the serious impairments connected to this pathology, people suffering from autisticsyndrome may become, through the appropriate stimulus, independent and may acquire the basic spatial skills for personal development.

5.2. The autistic way of perceiving the world “Learning about the senses of each single autistic person is a fundamental key element to understand that person” (O’Neill, 1999, p. 31). Even if autistic people live in the same 3

According to DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders), the autistic disorder appears in three specific areas of mental functioning: 1) Quality impairment of social interaction area, or the lack of social interactions (problems with non verbal communication, rare or inappropriate use of eye contact and emotional expressions, inappropriate postures, lack of adequate relations with peers and difficulty to be pleased of other people’s happiness and/or emotions). 2) Impairment of the communication area, implying a delay or lack of language development (conventional, anomalous or repetitive use of language). 3) Limited, ripetitive and routine interests, functional to no purpose.

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physical world, their perception is different from non-autistic people. It has been proved that autistic people have uncommon sensory experiences (from a non-autistic point of view). Such experiences may imply hyper or hyposensitiveness, different levels of perception, troubles in interpreting reality or an input from a sense. A different experience leads to a different set of knowledge about the world. Furthermore, what makes everything more complicated is the fact that two autistic people do not seem to exist with the same pattern of sensory and perception experiences. Some of the features of the autistic perception of the world can be identified (based on the reports by high-functioning autistic adults and on the observation of autistic children): a lateral perception, which means perceiving everything for what it is; inability to differentiate between first level and background information, difficulty in recognizing relevant and nonrelevant stimulus; hypersensitivity and/or hyposensitivity; inconsistent perception; disjointed, misrepresented and delayed perception; sensory agnosias, or difficulty with sense interpretation; vulnerability to sensory overload (Bogdashina, 2011, pp. 51-89). Differences in perception lead to a different perceptual world, which is necessarily interpreted in a different way. Institutions, and school in particular, must become aware of those differences and help autistic people to face painful sensitivities and to develop their strong points which are often neglected. Teachers and other professionals must recognize sensory differences to choose appropriate methods and design significant education measures. Since all the senses are mutually integrated, the impairment of one may negatively affect one or more other senses. Therefore, there is the need to identify which one is impaired and to what extent, and which sense it can be relied on (sets of perceptual tests are broadly described and reported by Bogdashina, 2011, pp. 171-210).

Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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5.3 Learning in the integration and inclusion process Learning is a fundamental part of the integration and inclusion process, the more important it is, the more it is hindered by factors of various types: biological, behavioural, relationship-wise, social. Even the pupil with the most severe impairment has the right to learn and get an adequate school service for his/her educational and didactical needs. Some problematic conditions, such as autism, need a well-structured environment to facilitate the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s learning and behaviour. Structured does not mean different and separated but including efficient elements of structuring and predictability in the normal activities. On those premises a methodological handbook can and must be drafted, including concrete activities, new methods of educating and solid pedagogical/didactical principles.

5.4 Spaces and times The workplace should be organized in optically delimited spaces, with specific functions clearly displayed, in order to allow the pupil to know exactly what we expect from him/her in any place and at any time. The pupil needs an individual work area, a group activity area and a space for leisure; each should be clearly delimited and marked with identification symbols. It is fundamental that each space is devoted to only one activity, to help the pupil in self-orientation and quickly become independent in his/her movements, which will be rewarding for him/her. The passing of time is a difficult notion to learn, since it is based on data that cannot be seen. This is why it is important to have a daily time-schedule, informing at any time the pupil on what is happening, what happened and what will happen, thus increasing predictability and the control over the situation and reducing uncertainty which causes anxiety. Time must be structured according to a daily time-schedule, built by a sequence of objects, images or written words, depending on the pupilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s abilities, listed from top to bottom. At the end of each activity, the pupil will move its CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

relating symbol to a different dedicated space which records the time elapsed: in this way the pupil can always know how much time has elapsed and how much is left before going home. It must be underlined that the time and space structure is not an objective to be reached, it is rather a developmental tool, a means to help autistic people achieve a better mastery of their environment and life.

5.5. Experiences and didactic methods According to Ausubel, meaningful learning takes place when new knowledge is related to what is already known. Yet, this is to be discovered, recognised and, above all, implemented. This should be true for any didactic action, especially with pupils experiencing trouble, for whom using previous knowledge and experiences must be the compulsory method to apply. Another basic element: before actual real situations pupils learn more easily, especially through discovery. Autistic children often have access to learning through the sensory channel; training and enhancing the latter may contribute to developing new languages and relative personal independence. A didactic approach, which through focused educational strategies can enhance the abilities of autistic people, is the Teaach Method, an acronym for Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children. The user is presented with a daily schedule with visual images: pecs, an acronym for Picture Exchange Communication System4. This system aims at developing functional communication like social exchange, through a step-by-step learning program which includes six stages (stage I-VI). It is easy to learn and it can be implemented in different contexts (at home, at school etc.) and it is not very expensive either. It 4

<>; <>; <>; <>; Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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is based on the use of supports, and aims at encouraging the child’s spontaneity and initiative in communication and in managing personal and relationship independence.

5.6. What kind of geography for autism? Personalized Educational Plans (Piani Educativi Individualizzati – PEI) of autisticsyndrome pupils rarely embrace spatial and geographical skills, since the autistic spectrum implies a stiffness in recognizing and exploring places. Being aware of this, it is necessary to adopt methods that use games and sensory and psychomotor experiences in which the objectbody-mind relationship, through direct experience, allow us to make sense of what we try to learn. The right approach to geography is a sensory approach, when the surrounding world is discovered through exploration, games, and creativity. Careful physical experiences, with visual distinctions and the other senses, facilitate more long-lasting learning in any therapy for children with difficulties. “By now, we have many means to see and know places and the beauties (or tragedies) of the world. School is in charge of stimulating curiosity and critical thinking so to let pupils, since their early childhood, test observation styles, clues to understand and interpret, methods to link and evaluate, and above all “new eyes” to start a discovery journey, which begins with meditating on direct, daily experiences and spreads to the knowledge of the world” (Razzoli, 2012, pp. 126-127).

References 1. Bogdashina O., Sensory Perceptual Issues in Autism and Asperger Syndrome, London, Jessica Kingsley, 2003 (It. Tr., 2011). 2. Bruni E.M., Pedagogia e trasformazione della persona, Lecce, Pensa Multimedia, 2008. Copyright© Nuova Cultura


3. Bruzzo A., “Infanzia/cura educativa”, in Cerini G. (Ed.), Passa… parole. Chiavi di lettura delle Indicazioni 2012, Faenza, Homeless Book, 2012, pp. 208-210. 4. Contini M., Non di solo cervello. Educare alle connessioni mente-corpo-significaticontesti, Milan, Cortina, 2006. 5.

Dellucca C. (Ed.), Geografia. Dalle Indicazioni alla pratica, Naples, Tecnodid, 2010.

6. De Vecchis G. and Morri R., Disegnare il mondo. Il linguaggio cartografico nella scuola primaria, Rome, Carocci Faber, 2010. 7. Farné R., Iconologia didattica. Le immagini per l'educazione: dall'Orbis Pictus a Sesame Street, Bologna, Zanichelli, 2002. 8. Frémont A., Vi piace la geografia?, It. Ed., Gavinelli D., Rome, Carocci, 2007. 9. Giorda C., La geografia nella scuola primaria. Contenuti, strumenti, didattica, Rome, Carocci, 2006. 10. Ianes D., La speciale normalità, Trento, Erickson, 2006. 11. Lucchesi F., Obiettivo geografia. Per una didattica del sapere geografico, Bologna, Pàtron, 1992. 12. Miur, Indicazioni nazionali per il curricolo della scuola dell’infanzia e del primo ciclo di istruzione, 2012. 13. Morganti A., Intelligenza emotiva e integrazione scolastica, Rome, Carocci Faber, 2012. 14. O’Neill J.L., Through the Eyes of Aliens: A book about Autistic People, London, Jessica Kingsley, 1999. 15. Pasquinelli d’Allegra D., “Geografia a scuola. Metodi, tecniche, strategie”, in De Vecchis G., Didattica della geografia. Teoria e prassi, Turin, UTET Università, 2011, pp. 49-78. 16. Pesaresi C., “Una nuova didattica e una nuova geografia con le tecnologie”, in De Vecchis G. (Ed.), A scuola senza geografia?, Rome, Carocci, 2011a, pp. 133-143.

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17. Pesaresi C., “Strumenti applicativi della geografia moderna”, in De Vecchis G., Didattica della geografia. Teoria e prassi, Turin, UTET Università, 2011b, pp. 97-112.

19. Razzoli S., “Discipline/geografia”, in Cerini G. (Ed.), Passa… parole. Chiavi di lettura delle Indicazioni 2012, Faenza, Homeless Book, 2012, pp. 124-127.

18. Pontiggia G., Nati due volte, Milan, Mondadori, 2001.

20. Visalberghi A. (Ed.), Rousseau, Emilio, Bari, Laterza, 2003.

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers



Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 119-123 DOI: 10.4458/0900-11

Commentary on Participatory Video Jay Mistry a

Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK Email:

Received: February 2013 – Accepted: March 2013

Abstract Participatory Video (PV) is a methodological tool to collect more meaningful and relevant data through the direct engagement of people in the research process, while at the same time drawing on accessible means of visual communication to represent the voices and perspectives of those involved. In this article, I first describe the process of PV using my experiences from an ongoing EU-funded research project and how I translate these experiences to teaching PV to Geography Masters students in a two day workshop. I then reflect on how the different stages/phases of PV contribute to giving Geography students an understanding of some of the challenges and opportunities of using PV, as well as wider learning on ethics and positionality that are critical to their research career development. Keywords: Participatory Video, Visual Methodologies, Ethics, Positionality

1. Participatory video in research I currently work on an EU-funded project called Community Owned Best practice for sustainable Resource Adaptive management (COBRA) - a research project with the mission to “…find ways to integrate community solutions within policies addressing escalating social, economic and environmental crises, through accessible information and communication technologies” in the Guiana Shield region, in South America (see We use visual methodological tools, including Participatory Video (PV), to help engage people in the research process, but also as a powerful way of representing the voices and perspectives of local communities through accessible means of Copyright© Nuova Cultura

communication (Lunch and Lunch, 2006; Mistry and Berardi, 2012). PV can be put into practice either through a facilitator external to the target group/community, or by first training a selected group of community (local) people who then become the PV facilitators. In the COBRA project, we have used the latter approach, which not only builds capacity and skills for the local facilitators but also ensures greater participation in and ownership over the research process. The PV process can be broken down into four phases – storyboarding, filming, editing and screening. These phases do not always occur in a linear fashion (e.g. some element of screening can occur straight after filming) and more than often it is an iterative process building on Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Jay Mistry


discussion and feedback (e.g. feedback following screening can lead to amendments to the storyboard and further filming). The following is a short description of each PV phase using images taken from the COBRA project as illustrations: 

Storyboarding. Storyboarding is generally the first stage in the PV process. This plays a very important role in collating ideas about the topics to be researched, how they will be filmed and what locations and people will be involved. The format of the storyboard (sequential boxes – Figure 1) lends itself to developing a story over time that people can draw, put in queries and comments and annotate as they go through the PV process.

Figure 1. People developing a storyboard. Source: Rebecca Xavier, COBRA Project. 

Filming. Filming is the way in which information is collected. Some filming may involve interviewing people and/or recording a group discussion. It can also be used to illustrate the theme of discussion by, for example, directly filming aspects of this theme (Figure 2), or engaging individuals in a role-playing activity (Figure 3).

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Figure 2. Indigenous researchers in Brazil filming an elder on the common foods which make up a local diet. Source: Jay Mistry, COBRA Project.

Figure 3. The filming of a role-play, where a scenario on local ailments and health are being acted out in the PV. Source: Andrea Berardi, COBRA Project.

Editing. Editing normally takes place in two stages. The first is through a paper edit (where video clips are noted on paper and physically arranged in the order of the film – Figure 4), which allows people to discuss how they would like the different video material to be represented and the story to be told. This can engender significant discussion and allow participants to think about extra features, such as narration, music, that could be added to the film to enhance the message. The final paper edit can then be used as a template for the computer edit of the video material into a final film as seen in Figures 5a and 5b. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Jay Mistry

Figure 4. Indigenous researchers sorting and organising their video material in the form of a paper edit. Source: Jay Mistry, COBRA Project.

Screening. Screenings of the video material is a critical step in the PV process (Figure 6). At its most basic, for example directly following filming, it allows people to see the material collected and give consent for it to be used. Once video footage is edited into a film, screenings allow participants the opportunity to critique the narrative, suggest what to exclude, and what should be put in which has been left out. It is a form of sharing knowledge and views and can stimulate much discussion (which can also be fed into the final film).

Figure 6. Screening of a PV film in an indigenous community. Source: Rebecca Xavier, COBRA Project.

2. Participatory video in teaching

Figures 5a and 5b. Indigenous researchers working on developing the PV film on the computer. Source: Andrea Berardi and Jay Mistry, COBRA Project.

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Linking my research to teaching, I currently run a two-day workshop with sustainable development Masters level students on PV. During the workshop, students learn the basic skills of operating a video-camera and essential features of PV through a series of games and activities. The main task of the workshop is where students are given an object (e.g. Fairtrade coffee, African newspaper) and asked to make a two-minute film based around the object (the object should also appear in the film at least once). Students take on the role of a community/local facilitator, but they can also “act” in the film as a participant. Students are allowed to use any resources on campus and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Jay Mistry

move freely to interview potential participants in various locations. In the following, I reflect on how the different stages/phases of PV contribute to giving Geography students an understanding of some of the challenges and opportunities of using PV, as well as wider learning on ethics and positionality that are critical to their research career development. Storyboarding is a great way for getting students to start discussing what is important to the film they are going to make and how to represent the particular issue (see Figure 1). My experiences show that this process of discussing how and what to film quickly surfaces issues of power and representation. During storyboarding, the students function as facilitators/researchers. In this role, they typically speak about “them” and “us” and start identifying what they want to know from “them” (the participants). It makes them aware that they are the ones with power and are already making decisions about how others could/should be represented. This supports much of the theoretical literature related to participatory methods which gives students the idea that “participants” are distinct from facilitators/researchers, and the transfer of power and knowledge is often seen as taking place between the facilitator/researcher and the participants. However, experiencing PV allows students to realise that the dichotomy between facilitator/researcher and participant is not static. This is particularly apparent during filming, when students become both facilitators and participants (when being filmed alongside a participant or acting), and during editing, when they put themselves into the shoes of the “participants”, while at the same time being “facilitators” ensuring that captured data fits into their themes. In these circumstances, they simultaneously become “researcher and researched, observer and observed, and documentarian and documented” (Kindon, 2003, p146). This blurring of roles and boundaries, while making some students (visibly) uncomfortable, gives them the opportunity to really experience some of the conflictual and compromising situations that participatory research can create. PV can provide a “space” for people to air and voice their opinions, tell their stories and/or Copyright© Nuova Cultura

feel confident to participate (Figures 2 and 3). Through the experience of practising PV themselves, students get a feel for what it is like holding the microphone, being in front of the camera and behind it. Although not all students like talking in front of the camera (as you find in PV projects), there is a general feeling that holding the microphone and being filmed means that a “space” has been created in which others will have to listen to you. Holding a camera can also encourage certain members of a group/community to interact with others they might have not done so before. I particularly like Figures 3, 5a and 5b – many of my female students have commented that previously they would leave it up to their male colleagues to approach and interview participants. But once they got behind the camera, they felt more confident to interview people themselves, noting that the technology changed the dynamics of the situation to make it “safer” for them. A similar feeling of “empowerment” came about when students who initially did not feel they were technologically-savvy, were able to complete the computer edit of the film. As Figure 5b shows, although the minority, the female participant emanates confidence as she works at editing on the computer. When planning research, it is easy for students to categorise potential participants into a homogenous group of the “poor”, “grassroots”, “marginalized”, as if they are all speaking in one voice, assigned to by the facilitator/researcher. Through PV, as people tell their stories or give their opinions, students learn that even within one specific “community” or “group”, you cannot assign a unified identity to all participants. This becomes particularly apparent during screenings (see Figure 6) when a wider group of people have the opportunity to comment on the PV film. These opportunities to share information and opinions makes students aware that there could be existing power relations within a so-called “unified” group and that a single person could tell the same story in different ways depending on the power relations. In addition, it makes students think about what is “authentic knowledge”. In some of the PV films, students tend to interview what they term “participants” and “experts”. These “experts” are generally academic staff members Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Jay Mistry

that can talk with authority about a specific issue (e.g. Fairtrade, labour rights etc.). During the storyboard phase of PV, students see these “experts” as adding valuable information to their stories. However, interestingly, when it comes to editing where these “expert” opinions are juxtaposed against the “participants”, students begin to question the validity of the different views being presented. They realise that using the “expert” can sometimes validate but can also undermine the participants’ contributions.

3. Conclusions PV engenders team working, listening to others, giving ownership of the research process to others, and the idea that participants can be co-researchers. At the same time, it is highly enjoyable and students always comment to me on the amount of laughing that took place at different stages of the PV process. One of the best wider lessons learnt through PV is the need to be adaptive during any form of research;

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students generally comment on how their original storyboard was modified as they went through the PV process reflecting how new opportunities or ideas were added in and/or preconceived ideas were removed. This skill of being adaptive will be vital when they embark on their own research careers.

References 1. Kindon S., “Participatory video in geographic research: a feminist practice of looking?”, Area, 35, 2, 2003, pp. 142-153. 2. Lunch C. and Lunch N., Insights into participatory video: a handbook for the field, UK, Insight, 2006. 3. Mistry J. and Berardi A., “The challenges and opportunities of using participatory video in geographical research: a case study exploring collaboration with indigenous communities of the North Rupununi, Guyana”, Area, 44, 1, 2012, pp. 110-116.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers




Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 127-136 DOI: 10.4458/0900-12

Mapping society: an ingenious but today outdated map Edoardo Boriaa a

Department of Political Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy Email:

Received: April 2013 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Accepted: June 2013

Abstract Today the scientific world shows great interest in visual culture. This is a transversal phenomenon to national disciplines and contexts, given that the same tendency to reorient knowledge and organize it around visual paradigms is to be found in different areas of contemporary western thought. In this reevaluation of the visual culture is collocated the present rediscovery of the heuristic value of the geographical map, the use of which today has undoubtedly crossed the narrow ambit of geographical studies to find growing use with specialists of other disciplines too, attracted by the capacity of maps to synthetically highlight significant spatial correlations of the phenomena being studied. Nonetheless, like every scientific instrument it comes up with processes of adaptation to the changing scientific contexts, just as the traditional Cartesian configuration of the map needs to be updated in order to be in line with the new post-modern scientific paradigms and with the reality of the contemporary world. The analysis of these dynamics of contemporary cartography is here traced back to the case of a specific cartographic method: the choropleth map, or mosaic diagram. This represents one of the most fortunate intuitions in the history of cartography, introduced by Charles Dupin in 1826 and is an exemplary application of positivist scientific thought. Even though the introduction of the choropleth map was the start of a fruitful period for the subject with the ceaseless development of statistical cartography, today it seems inadequate for the understanding of the multi-faceted contemporary reality. After highlighting the reasons for the success of the choropleth map, this paper makes a number of considerations on its present limitations and the need, as far as cartographical studies are concerned, to press on beyond the frontier of innovation. In particular, stimulating starting points to reason on the future of the geographical map are offered by the recent success of the anamorphic maps. Keywords: cartography, visual culture, choropleth maps, Dupin, anamorphic maps

1. The beginning of an extraordinary scientific intuition In the history of cartography the most fertile sector for the introduction of new CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

representations of the territory has been the bureaucratic-administrative one. From the medieval cadastres, useful not only for defining property rights but also for allowing the collection of taxes, to the geodetic triangulations for complete mappings of national territories, Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Edoardo Boria

government bodies have always been the main clients of geographic maps. In contemporary times it will be statistics, the government discipline par excellence, the branch of sciences from which the main stimuli for cartographic innovation will stem, considering that it will be at the basis of the advent of thematic cartography. This advent must be set in the more general context of the cultural climate inspired by positivism, whose interpretative model foresaw that all phenomena were linked together by connections based on the causeeffect principle and that any explanation based on the notion of “chance” should be excluded. In this methodological perspective the spatial distribution of phenomena offered important keys to understanding, as pointed out by Charles Dupin, the protagonist of this article, when commenting on the product of his own invention, that is the first choropleth map (in French carte teintée and in Italian also called “cartogramma a mosaic”) with education in France as its subject: “It is the activity and the spirit of inhabitants the cause of the huge difference that is felt when one glances at the map. You can see the well-defined blackish line going from Geneva to St. Malo, dividing the north from the south of France” (Dupin, 1827, pp. 250-251). His proposal, which changed the history of cartography as much as statistics, appeared for the first time in 1826 and was then presented in its final format the following year in his major piece of work (Robinson, 1982, p. 232; Palsky, 2008, p. 415; Figure 1). The importance of the choropleth map derives from the fact that for the first time in the history of cartography we find a differentiation among areas and the hierarchy resulting from it is recorded according to the intensity of a phenomenon1. Before then the only forms of differentiation had been between places and not areas, and were extremely elementary and approximate: a town could appear more 1

Only later will the aerial diagrams come onto the scene, that is, those representations that with a cartographic background superimpose a symbol of dimensions corresponding to the value of the phenomenon being considered.

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populous than another if the symbol that represented it was visibly bigger; a decidedly rough and ready graphical solution to relate the hierarchies among the subjects of the map.

Figure 1. Charles Dupin, Carte figurative de l’instruction populaire de la France, 1826.

With Dupin’s first choropleth the areas begin to be differentiated on the basis of the intensity with which a given phenomenon is recorded in the area (the “subject” that gives the name to thematic maps). We are therefore before an important turning-point in the way of thinking and representing the territory, which now takes on precise hierarchies. An innovation that in the following years is to open the way for a rich production of scientific theories based on spatial differentiation, like for example the concentric zone model developed by Ernest Burgess in 1925 or the one of central localities proposed by Walter Christaller in 1933. The advent of Dupin’s first choropleth map immediately set off a proliferation of cartographic representations of statistical data (Figures 2-5).

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Figure 2. Administrative-Statistischer Atlas vom Preussischen Staate, map of population density, 1828.

Figure 3. AndrĂŠ Michel Guerry e Adriano Balbi, first comparison among choropleths on crime in relation with level of education, 1829.

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Edoardo Boria

Figure 4. Adolphe dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Angeville, map of population density in France, 1836.

Figure 5. August Petermann, detail of population map of British Isles, 1849. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Edoardo Boria

The idea of “speaking to the eye”, William Playfair’s rather fitting expression (1802, p. XX), another pioneer of thematic cartography who caught the attention of many scholars that ventured into this new genre that was capable of transmitting information in a more immediate and simple way with respect to the tabular form and was considered more suitable to summarise situations, highlight connections and put forward hypotheses.


social and economic phenomena, presupposed for the study of those same phenomena (Figure 6).

It must also be remembered that the usefulness of the visual impact by means of maps was accentuated by the fact that in those years instruments of inferential statistics had not yet been invented, such as correlation or regression. Therefore, the observation of spatial differences given by the map created unprecedented possibilities for the scholars of that time. The fact is however significant that the data that Dupin could count on were hardly reliable (Palsky, 2008, p. 415); his map, which was the beginning of a genre that was to have huge success, was born with a considerable stake: the reliability of the data. From the point of view of the history of cartography, Dupin’s proposal and the consequent affirmation of thematic cartography had an important theoretical outcome, insofar as it put an end once and for all to the illusion of the map as inventory, able to exhaustively represent any information on anything connected with the territory. Furthermore, it is important to note that thematic cartography, after its beginning dedicated to representing natural phenomena (such as temperatures, the type of plant covering or the geological nature of the ground), soon extended to social ones (income, schooling, health conditions, education, criminality, etc.) giving an abundant and regular cartographic production of man’s activities. Until then maps had clearly privileged the natural data to the anthropic data: the elements linked to the human being and his ingenuity (roads, towns and little else) were overwhelmed by representations of mountains, rivers, lakes, planes, letting nature dominate the general picture. From the early nineteenth century the map instead discovers a new function: to show the spatial distribution of Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Figure 6. Choropleth regarding taxation from: Regno d’Italia. Prospetti e tavole grafiche, Atlante Statistico del Regno d’Italia, 1878, tav. 4a.

The establishment in cartographic practice of the criterion of the intensity of the phenomenon by Dupin triggered other exceptional innovations for the history of cartography: in the maps of the movements of goods produced by Charles-Joseph Minard from the 1840s onwards2, significantly called “Figurative and approximate maps”, not all the places of the area are represented but only those crossed by flows of goods. In fact, something similar had already been the case with the itinerary maps of very old tradition (the Romans’ itineraria picta were famous) in which, with respect to the area represented, they only showed the places near the major thoroughfares. In Minard’s maps, 2

The first on the subject was “Carte de la circulation des voyageurs par voitures publiques sur les routes de la contree où sera placé le chemin de fer de Dijon á Mulhouse” (1846). The author had already written a contribution that was considered “the best statistical graph ever designed” (Edward Tufte said this about Minard’s cartogram relative to Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812; Tufte, 1983, p. 40). Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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however, a second condition was added to that of proximity: for a place to be shown on the map it also had to be crossed by a flow of goods that was higher than a level considered minimum.

introduced some years before (1837) by Henry Drury Harness in his work on traffic between Irish towns (Robinson, 1955).

A good example is the map of the goods transported to Paris by rail (Figure 7).

Figure 8. Charles-Joseph Minard, Carte figurative et approximative des quantités de vin français exportés par mer en 1864, 1865.

Figure 7. Charles-Joseph Minard, Carte figurative et approximative des poids des bestiaux venus á Paris sur les chemins de fer en 1862, 1864.

Not only does it merely show, among all the French places, the more populous ones situated along a railway leading to Paris, but it considers exclusively the important ones with respect to the phenomenon, that is, those moving an amount of goods considered significant. In other words, this means that even the populous towns linked to Paris by a railway line are not recorded on the map if stopovers of a certain commercial importance are not shown. With respect to the classical itinerary maps a new condition was thus introduced: the intensity of the phenomenon. Moreover Minard developed another fundamental innovation: the dimensioning of the sign according to the intensity of the phenomenon, prior to this limited to few characters and in particular to the one relative to the demographic importance of the towns. In Figures 8 and 9, for example, the different widths of the broken lines indicate respectively, for every place crossed, the volume of wine exports and the number of travelers on the railway network. A graphical solution Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Figure 9. Charles-Joseph Minard, detail of Carte figurative et approximative du mouvement des voyageurs sur les principaux chemins de fer de l’Europe en 1862, 1865.

Despite the extraordinary importance of the above innovations, the professional geographers at the end of the nineteenth century were still suspicious of thematic and statistical cartography, and preferred to stay firmly rooted in the traditional cartography of the Major States. It is only in the 1930s that this distrust Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Edoardo Boria

disappears when, in a climate characterized by an unprecedented and widespread ebullience of ideas on maps, the geographers will develop a keen interest in the new representation techniques developed by the statisticians, ideal to highlight territorial differences, and will apply them in the various contexts of human geography (Robic, 2000, p. 3). In parallel with this, the scholars of other social sciences too will discover and use the new cartographic methods: let us remember, for example, Otto Neurath’s visual pedagogy and the above mentioned urban models of Ernest Burgess.

2. A less and less adequate instrument for the representation of today’s social phenomena Today, after almost two centuries of life, Charles Dupin’s choropleth map is beginning to feel its age. In a globalised world whose main feature is one of flows (of people, things, ideas), the static quality of the territorial mosaic to which the choropleth map gives rise appears increasingly unsatisfactory to understand contemporary economic and social phenomena. In fact it seems an over-approximate and little significant cartographic solution, above all when applied to spatially volatile phenomena of flows (e.g. with regard to finance and communication). The digital flows, so obviously important in today’s world, cannot be represented with the traditional statistical cartography: it suffices to think of the online circulation of information or the chaotic communication flow of the social networks. The bursting onto the scene of internet and the new technologies for distance communication propel the man of today onto a new spatial dimension, unconnected from and independent of the materiality of the land. Moreover, in a world where the historical times quickly change the structures and characteristics of society, the positivist illusion on which the map has speculated for centuries is no longer acceptable, and that is, the claim to show the reader a representation of a time past as if it were relative to the very moment at which the reader observes it. Those same constitutive elements of the choropleth maps that are administrative boundaries (national, regional,

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etc.) tend to lose the importance that they once had. A further criticism can be made of the choropleth map. When it was created in 1826 it was totally in line with the times insofar as it satisfied a state concept of cartography, in which the need to define and classify its inhabitants dominated and this objective was reached by using a classical political category: the division of the territory into admintrative units. In this context the choropleth maps reduced the whole population of an entire region to an average value, considering and judging that same population in relation to that average value that was thus raised to the only norm of reference. This expressive modality shows a methodological choice in which the territory prevails over its inhabitants and not vice versa (Crampton, 2004): a bureaucratic concept of the relationship with the citizens typical of nineteenth century Europe. Statistical cartography thus shows a deeply state-centred leaning, or that is, oriented to valorising state data and underestimating the other geographical dimensions of society. This inclination is to be found not only in those products that can be directly ascribable to the activity of the institutions (like cartography for schools or town-planning), but is raised to being an intrinsic feature of cartography production, even the unofficial one. This state-centred vision of the social space blurs the role of noninstitutional protagonists of our society, like civil movements, private economic agents, local associations for the defence of the territory and local identity, international companies, NGOs, etc. Instead it is necessary to free oneself of this obsolete state-centred vision that cartography has inherited directly from classical geography, bringing to the forefront the primary agents of our society, until now ignored by maps only because they are not directly linked to the territorial concept of the modern state and basically de-territorialised. The still widespread use of the choropleth map can be attributed to a basic misunderstanding on the nature of the geographical map, seen as an exclusively technical activity that minimises the moment of the critical interpretation of the phenomenon being observed. This moment can, and rather Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Edoardo Boria

must, direct the choices in the successive phase of the realisation of the map suggesting adaptations that are specifically suitable to represent the observed phenomenon.

space was therefore the only space granted in this model. Today however this monopoly has been overcome, and therefore we come across the use of a multiplicity of metrics.

For example, a typical problem of the choropleth map is that the phenomenon being studied is related to the geographical extension of the areas represented even when it would be more opportune for the analysis to relate the phenomenon to different elements (e.g. the demographic importance, education or income level, etc.). Hence the diffusion of the anamorphic maps3, which have been more and more used in recent years4. These representations break a taboo-principle: the surfaces of the areas on the map must correspond to the relative quantitative dimension of the phenomena and not to their surfaces on the ground; at the expense of greatly deforming the usual boundaries, the graphic codes of the anamorphic maps highlight the territorial imbalances (Figure 10).

The success of the anamorphic map gives the measure of the need to develop scientific instruments that are closer to the fluid spatiality of our times and of the popularity that these attempts enjoy among the public too6. And yet by admission of its very promoters (Hennig, Pritchard, Ramsden and Dorling, 2010), the anamorphic map presents evident limitations as it is applicable exclusively to quantitative phenomena (like the choropleth maps too on the other hand), while it is difficult to reduce contemporary reality to quantitative analysis.

The diffusion of anamorphic maps, which “adapt the map form no longer to the physical reality but rather to the perceived reality” (Denain and Langlois, 1996), derives from its higher hermeneutical capacity with respect to the traditional methods of statistical graphics (Figures 11 and 12). Cartography has lived through centuries dominated by topographic metrics5, the only one foreseen in the rationalist model. The Euclidean 3

As well as the version in different languages of the term “anamorphic map” many other terms have been coined to define even scientific maps that present evident spatial distortions: some call them ‘cartographic transformations’ (Griffin, 1980; Cauvin, 1997; Sen, 1976), some “pseudo-cartograms” (Tobler, 1986), “cartographic deformations” (Schneider, 1987), or “meta-maps” (Bunge, 1962; De Vecchis and Staluppi, 1997; Lavagna and Lucarno, 2007). Lastly, some call them simply cartograms (cf. Danny Dorling’s site 4 The main promoters of this technique are the Englishman Daniel Dorling, the Frenchman Jacques Lévy and the Italian Emanuela Casti, who leads the work of the Laboratorio Cartografico Diathesis of the University of Bergamo. 5 By metrics is meant, according to Jacques Levy’s definition, “le mode de mesure et de traitement de la distance” (Levy and Lussault, 2003, p. 607). Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Furthermore the anamorphic map, relying on the availability of statistical data which are normally supplied according to the usual administrative divisions, forces the analysis to reason by administrative areas at the risk of seriously invalidating explicative capacities. Moreover, the reliance on statistical data brings up the subject of the quality of that very data, which is particularly felt in those contexts without an efficient bureaucratic organisation, autonomous of political interference: to what extent can we trust statistics? The new topological reality of today’s world has not yet found suitable and satisfactory representation instruments to deal with the demanding challenges that the world of research has before it. But undoubtedly innovation has become an obligation if an efficient contribution is to be given to the understanding of the phenomena of our times. Even in cartography.


As shown by the unexpected commercial success of Danny Dorling’s atlases. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Edoardo Boria

Figure10. Anamorphic map. The size of each country correspond to its population.

Figure 11. Anamorphic map. The size of each country correspond to its gross domestic product.

Figure 12. Anamorphic map. The size of each country correspond to its infant mortality rate.

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Edoardo Boria

References 1. Bunge W., Theoretical Geography, Lund, Royal University of Lund, 1962. 2. Casti E., Cartografia critica. Dal topos alla chora, Milan, Guerini, 2013. 3. Cauvin C., “Au sujet des transformations cartographiques de position”, Cybergeo, 15, 1997. 4. Crampton J.W., “GIS and Geographic Governance: Reconstructing the Choropleth Map”, Cartographica, 39, 1, 2004, pp. 4153. 5. Denain J.C. and Langlois P., “Cartographie en anamorphose”, Mappemonde, 49, 1, 1998, pp. 16-19 (already published in Cybergeo, 1, 1996). 6. De Vecchis G. and Staluppi G.A, Fondamenti di didattica della geografia, Torino, UTET, 1997. 7. De Vecchis G. and Morri R., Disegnare il mondo. Il linguaggio cartografico nella scuola primaria, Rome, Carocci, 2010. 8. Dupin C., Forces productives et commerciales de la France, Paris, Bachelier, 1827. 9. Griffin T.L.C., “Cartographic transformations of the thematic map base”, Cartography, 11, 3, 1980, pp. 163-174. 10. Hennig B.D., Pritchard J., Ramsden M. and Dorling D., “Remapping the World’s Population. Visualizing Data using Cartograms”, ArcUser, 1, 2010, pp. 66-69. 11. Lavagna E. and Lucarno G., Geocartografia, Bologna, Zanichelli, 2007. 12. Levy J. and Lussault M. (Eds.), Dictionnaire de géographie et de l’espace des sociétés, Paris, Belin, 2003. 13. Levy J., L’invention du monde: une Géographie de la Mondialisation, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2008. 14. MacEachren A., “The evolution of thematic cartography. A research methodology and historical review”, The Canadian Cartographer, 16, 1, 1979, pp. 17-33. 15. Morri R. and Pesaresi C. (Eds.), “Innovazione cartografica e geografia”, Semestrale di Studi e Ricerche di Geografia, 1, 2007.

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16. Palsky G., Des chiffres et des cartes. Naissance et développement de la cartographie quantitative français au XIXe siècle, Paris, CTHS, 1996. 17. Palsky G., “The debate on the standardization of statistical maps and diagrams (1857-1901). Elements for the history of graphical language”, Cybergeo, 85, 1999. 18. Palsky G., “Connections and exchanges in European thematic cartography. The case of 19th century choropleth maps”, in Bracke W., Renteux J.L. and Bodenstein W. (Eds.), Formatting Europe – Mapping a continent, Belgeo, vol. 3-4, 2008, pp. 413-425. 19. Playfair W., Eléments de statistique où l’on démontre, d’après un principe entièrement neuf, les ressources de chaque Royaume, État et république de l’Europe, Paris, Batilliot et Genets, 1802. 20. Robic M.C., “Une école pour des universitaires placés aux marges de l’expertise: les années trente et la cartographie geographique”, Cybergeo, 155, 2000. 21. Robinson A.H., “The 1837 Maps of Henry Drury Harness”, The Geographical Journal, 121, 4, 1955, pp. 440-450. 22. Robinson A.H., “The thematic maps of Charles Joseph Minard”, Imago Mundi, 21, 1967, pp. 95-108. 23. Robinson A.H., “The genealogy of the Isopleth”, Cartographical Journal, 8, 1971, pp. 49-53. 24. Robinson A.H., Early Thematic Mapping in the History of Cartography, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1982. 25. Schneider C., Déformations cartographiques d´après le modèle HERCULE, L.C.T. Strasbourg, CCS, 1987. 26. Sen A.K., “On a class of map transformations”, Geographical Analysis, VIII, 1, 1976, pp. 23-37. 27. Tobler W., “Pseudo-cartograms”, The American Cartographer, 13, 7, 1986 pp. 4350. 28. Tufte E.R., The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Cheshire, Graphic Press, 1983.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers



Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 139-143 DOI: 10.4458/0900-13

Reflections on geography, its teaching and the possible function of Geoparks

Giuliano Bellezza a a

Vice President International Geogrpahical Union Email: Received: March 2013 – Accepted: April 2013

1. A general framework In 1994 Paul Claval wrote that “...Geography teachers have the luck to take part in a thrilling task: it consists in (…) preparing the citizens of tomorrow to use their freedom to mould a world that is in line with their ideals without ignoring the influence of natural or social conditionings” (Claval, 1994, p. 36). Since then geographers, in the evolving of the comparison and reflection on the founding disciplinary nucleuses, and the modalities and methodologies of their teaching, have mapped out many shared courses, as if, motivated by what Chaval said, they are conforming to the guidelines set down in Agenda 21 on Sustainable Development. The basic principles of the document drawn up in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (commonly known as UNCED), are of enormous geographical interest: protection of the environment, economic growth and sustainable development in an environmental and social sense. On the subject of globalisation, it must be remembered that the follow-up of the previous meeting was held in Rio in 2012 (called Rio+20), in order to evaluate the practical results

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of Agenda 21. The conclusions were disheartening: to date the most important states have not taken significant measures and are all waiting for interventions by others. However through their teaching, geographers are trying to spread those principles as much as possible, even though up against many institutional and administrative obstacles. A hostile attitude to Geography is to be found in almost all the countries of the world. Geography, with its conceptual hubs and its specificity, studies the world as a complex system. In an article published in the magazine International Research in Geography and Environmental Education, Ester Cecioni (2004) wrote that Geography is undoubtedly the discipline of complexity, particularly owing to the following points (I have added a number of observations in brackets to the first three): 

the position, insofar as it is at the organic intersection of various disciplines (without claiming to be at the top as happened in the past);

the subject of study, which is inherent in the relationships between human societies and ecosystems (it has only

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been granted for a few decades that man is not the lord of the world but is part of the ecosystems); 

the method, which makes use of procedures and languages borrowed from other sciences, such as mathematics, economics or physics (the borrowing, nonetheless, presupposes a re-elaboration ascribable to a discourse made unitary and organic by the specific subject of study);

the diachronic and synchronic approach, which makes it possible to evaluate the systems from a historical and structural viewpoint, aimed at a future projection;

an intrinsic teleologism with the action on the evolution of systems as the objective of the discipline, thus proposing transformations of reality itself;

transcalarity, or that is the ability to analyse phenomena at all scales of observation, pointing out differences, analogies and variations in quantitative and qualitative terms;

the particular attention to the individual modalities of the perception and representation of reality, considered as the starting point to define the correct modalities in practical individual behaviour.

It must be stressed that all the ethical values, set down in the political paradigm of Sustainable Development (conservation of ecosystems, limited use of resources at the same rate as their renewal, social equity both in this generation and in the legacy left to the future ones), have a highly geographical essence. With regard to the didactics of Geography it is agreed that the students learn to act in reality to know, interpret and plan it. The teachers must aim at giving knowledge in the educational, indicative and professionalizing whole. Technically speaking, well-taught Geography carries out a meta-disciplinary function, working in three conterminous contexts of intervention: 



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enhancement of the perceptiverepresentational sphere of the pupils; 

applicative, aimed at the acquisition and the consequent use of methodologies and technologies for research;

ethical, with the task orientation on values.



The concord that reigns practically unanimously among theoreticians has not yet managed to translate sufficiently into school teaching practice. Eyüp Artvinli’s contribution (2012, p. 48), published in No. 0 of J-Reading, is enlightening on this: in Turkey the new syllabus for Geography in schools is very advanced and well devised, aimed as it is at the acquisition of well defined “geographic skills” by pupils. Unfortunately however the practical guidelines on how to apply the contents in class are completely insufficient, above all comparing them to the over 35 pages dedicated to assessment. Artvinli concludes that “the ways of teaching geography in classrooms should be renewed according to a geographic skills education by new teacher education programs in Turkey”. The main problem (or how the subject is taught) cannot be resolved by dedicating simple refresher courses to the teachers; it is necessary to give them real teacher training courses, as moreover it is highlighted in the Italian context on numerous occasions, where an organic didactic project aimed at giving teachers the suitable bases and skills is lacking.

2. A positive note On a more positive note, I would now like to mention an experience carried out in the early 90s in a Technical Institute in the suburbs of Rome. Despite the scepticism a winter-sports holiday had been organised in the Apennines (Abruzzo, Passo San Leonardo), during which the pupils were supposed to have some hours of lessons every day. The teachers of languages, letters and physical education decided to realise a project proposed by the Geography teacher, called “Man and environment in the Apennine mountains”. The days were therefore organised according to a specific timetable:


Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Giuliano Bellezza

08-09: environment observations

09-12 a.m.: sky practising

12-13: environment observations

13-14.30: lunch

14.30-17.30 lessons

17.30-20: activities

20.30: dinner



boys and girls always worked in groups the composition of which changed every day.


The Physical Education teacher led the excursions with the Geography teacher and was present during the skiing lessons given by a local instructor. During the excursions the students collected samples of rock and plants as well as carrying out weather observations; when they met shepherds with their flocks they stopped to talk to them. Besides the topographical maps, compass and books on plants and Apennine fauna the Geography teacher had brought the files of the last censuses (population, economic activities), for the afternoon’s work. All the teachers helped in following the practical work which were aimed at the report on the project. Upon their arrival in Rome the pupils were given an entry test in which they wrote down their place of birth (theirs and their parents’) and whether or not they had been on any trips. They then drew the route they had followed in the morning on squared paper, indicating the type of roads, direction, the change in the position of the sun, the population of the areas crossed. Furthermore, they then explained this in general terms (ecosystem, rocks) and in particular technical ones (transhumance or mountain grazing, isotherms etc.). Having obtained information at a personal level, they then gave each other information on the research to be carried out and on the important goals (e.g. respect for the environment). The general objectives were to work in a group, to learn and study through the direct observation of reality, find sources, elaborate statistical data, learn cartographic language, build age pyramids, thematic maps, diagrams and aerogrammes. The

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From the censuses there was confirmation of the decrease in the population, demographic aging, with an increasingly high female prevalence, of the decline of the traditional agropastoral tradition and a rise in tourism. For each variable comparisons were made with what happened in Italy in similar regions. Finding themselves in a totally different situation the students reacted positively to this and when they got back they covered the walls of the school with thematic maps, diagrams, photos, drawings and even an environmental impact assessment matrix. The teachers had the great satisfaction of receiving compliments from colleagues who, just a few days beforehand had considered them bound to fail. To some extent this experience draws inspiration from the recently formulated syllabuses by the Commissions for the reorganisation of the curricula that the Ministry had set up in the late 80s. As I had taken part in those Commissions, I had the possibility to spend a couple of days there. Just a few years later the area was to be found in one of the National Parks set up in the 90s (Parco Nazionale della Majella). In the Statute of Parks the main aim is the protection of the ecosystems without mentioning the didactic aspect.

3. New possibilities in the Geoparks In this framework of attention to the environmental aspects, to study and discover by means of field work and didactic excursions, the existence must be highlighted of other territorial organisations called Geoparks, established in 1998 by UNESCO, and which in Europe are connected in a European Geoparks Network, created in 2000 with 4 members and which has increased almost tenfold in 12 years. Their statute offers greater possibilities with respect to that of the National parks, insofar that it mentions the cultural aspects. In fact in the official website European Geopark Network (, it says: “A Geopark must comprise a certain number of geological sites of particular importance in terms Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Giuliano Bellezza

of their scientific quality, rarity, aesthetic appeal or educational value. The majority of sites present on the territory of a European Geopark must be part of the geological heritage, but their interest may also be archaeological, ecological, historical or cultural. A Geopark has direct impact on the territory by influencing its inhabitants’ living conditions and environment. The objective is to enable the inhabitants to reappropriate the values of the territory’s heritage and actively participate in the territory’s cultural revitalization as a whole. A European Geopark has an active role in the economic development of its territory through enhancement of a general image linked to the geological heritage and the development of Geotourism”. In the United States of America Geoparks have not yet been established, which may seem strange as it was the first country to create the protected areas (Hot Spring Arkansas, 1832), and at a later date the first National Park (Yellowstone, 1872). In the US National Park Service the figure of the interpreter is today foreseen, a person who is required to have a much deeper knowledge of the natural aspects (geology, vegetation, animals) than what they are expected to have in the human ones. Undoubtedly they also know the anthropic aspects but in my experience they are more interested in nature and panoramas. The Geoparks around the world are increasing, and in 2004 the International Geographical Union created a Task Force, directed by the Chinese Professor Dongying Wei. In 2012 the Task Force was promoted to Commission, still directed by Prof. Wei. China is considerably active in this field: the members of the Global Geoparks Network recognised by UNESCO in January 2013 were 90, of which 27 in China. Unexpectedly perhaps we find Italy in second place, moreover with only 8 members. On a par with us is Spain, so much so that these two countries stand out in the European Geoparks Network: my attention was attracted by this. In the European Geopark geotourism is also mentioned; the setting up of facilities in the Geoparks should follow on from this. It would Copyright© Nuova Cultura

be very interesting if this were to be done, as facilities of this type are the most suitable to host didactic initiatives like the one described above. In such a context there would be a much more active collaboration than in any National Park. The Geopark would have to supply teaching materials (not only informative) and videos to show, and the teachers could find the basic support of guides. It goes without saying that in the possible competitions for guides, a degree in Geography would be the most fitting qualification. At the International Geographical Union, the members of the Executive Committee are given the task of liaising with the Commissions: at the time I chose to be able to carry out this role for the Geoparks Commission, proposing myself however as active collaborator and not just as a simple “liaison officer”. Restricting myself to the activity in Italy, I am collaborating to establish among various countries something that has already been done occasionally: the hosting of students in the respective Geoparks, which in Italy could entail the cooperation of the Italian Association of Geography Teachers as supplier of “interpreters”. They should obviously have good knowledge of the Geopark in which to operate: it would also be a way to venture out, showing that in dealing with humanity-environment relationships, the geographer is the most suitable figure. It would be useful for the collaboration between Ministries and other state bodies to let all students enjoy a week like the one described during the school year. Not only would the new generations have a mentality that is more consciously interested in the protection of environments and lifestyles developed within them, but this type of experience would be important for the teachers of Geography themselves as training and refresher course. The geographical opportunities are today many and diversified, varying from those concerning direct observation and on-the-spot investigations to studies of a quantitativequalitative type that can sustain them, from those regarding the interpretation, analysis and computer elaboration of data to those that can use the world of the web and the social networks, just to mention a few. The important Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Giuliano Bellezza

thing is to find planning strategies to create a didactic-training system which starting from the teachers can actively involve and “convince” the students!


10. Wei D., Interpretation Evaluation for Geoparks: Theory into Practice, Home of Geography Series, 10, Rome, Società Geografica Italiana, 2012.

References 1. Artvinli E., “Integrate geographic skills with active learning in geography: a case of Turkey”, J-Reading, 0, 1, 2012, pp. 43-50. 2. Cecioni E., “Una proposta didattica: uomo e ambiente nella montagna appenninica”, Continuità e Scuola, VIII, 1, 1995, pp. 6371. 3. Cecioni E., “Environmental education and Geography of Complexity”, International Research in Geography and Environmental Education, 4, 2004, pp. 277-294. 4. Claval P., “Insegnare la geografia oggi”, Proceedings of the Conference “Geografia per leggere il mondo” (Rimini, 1994), Novara, Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 1994, pp. 19-36. 5. De Vecchis G., Didattica della geografia. Teoria e prassi, Turin, Utet Libreria, 2011. 6. Gould P., Il mondo nelle tue mani, Milan, Franco Angeli, 1988. 7. Graves N.J. (Ed.), New UNESCO Source Book for Geography Teaching, Paris, UNESCO, 1982. 8. Lucchesi F., Obiettivo Geografia, Bologna, Pàtron, 1992. 9. Vertecchi B., Manuale della valutazione. Rome, Editori Riuniti, 1985.

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers




Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 147-148

Elementary Geography: Objectives and Curriculum1 The nature of modern geography. --- One cannot effectively consider objectives in the teaching of any subject without first having a definite comprehension of the nature of that subject. What then is modern geography? It is a descriptive and explanatory science, dealing with the relationships between man and his natural environment. By “natural environment” there is meant, of course, the combined physical, plant, and animal environments. The distinctive function of geography is both to describe and to explain the relationships of man to the natural environment; to examine and interpret the adjustments which groups of people have made to the combination of 1

From: Barrows H. and Parker E., “Elementary Geography: Objectives and Curriculum”, The Elementary School Journal, XXV, 7, excerpted from pp. 493-498. In this article H. Barrows and E. Parker present the modern 1925 view of geography as they believe it should be used by elementary school teachers. They then go on to identify the five most important objectives of geography for elementary school children. In summarizing the points made by the authors in 1925, sections have been deleted from the full length article. At the time this article was written, Harlan Barrows was Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of Chicago and Edith Putnam Parker was Assistant Professor of the Teaching of Geography in the School of Education, University of Geography. The authors also wrote geography textbooks for school geography that were known for many decades as the Barrows and Parker Series. This article has been selected and commented by Joseph P. Stoltman, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, USA.

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natural environmental conditions that exist in the regions in which they live; to explain why men us the land and its resources as they do; to study the advantages and disadvantages, the opportunities and handicaps, of unit regions throughout the world for utilizations by man. The essence of this may be stated in a very simple way by saying that in studying modern geography one studies why people work and play and live in different lands in the ways they do, or, again, that in studying the geography of any part of the world one is concerned with learning how the people there have made or can make their work and play and their ways of living fit the find of country in which they dwell. Thus defined, geography has a field cultivated but little, if at all, by any or all of the other natural and social sciences; has a unity formerly lacking; and has a point of view unique among the sciences which deal with humanity. Thus defined, geography is neither a natural science nor a social science; its field lies between the domains of those groups of sciences. These statements do not, of course, for the briefest moment mean that geography can claim exclusive ownership of all of the facts with which it deals. No science enjoys exclusive possession of all the data with which it is concerned, and whether a fact is geographical or not depends in many cases on how it is used. Principle objectives. --- 1. The first objective in the teaching of elementary geography, and the most fundamental one, is to emphasize the application of geography to the immediate problems of life; to show how men live, what they do, and so far as practicable, why they live and work as they do in different environments in various parts of the world; to establish a background which will aid the pupil in later fitting his own live intelligently into his physical Italian Association of Geography Teachers


surrounding and in choosing surroundings to which his capacities are suited.

earth will help the pupil to become an intelligent citizen of the world.

2. The second objective in the teaching of elementary geography is to give the pupil knowledge of the location and character of the leading surface features of the earth (continents, oceans, mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, cities, etc.) in their various relationships to human activity, but never as isolated facts. In connection with this objective, it is to be noted that since geography is concerned with relationships between man and nature in specific places, it affords a greater opportunity that does no other subject taught in the elementary school to fix in the minds of pupils the names and locations of important surface features. It is again stoutly affirmed, however, that it is only the relationships which exist between the distribution, activities, life and works of man, on the one hand, and earthy features, on the other, that have real geographical quality. It is through these relationships and only so that geography should teach facts of location.

5. The fifth great objective is to point the way to better uses of land and natural resources. It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of teaching to the young citizens of America fundamental conceptions about the right use of the land. An intelligent interest in governmental and social obligations toward the efficient use of natural resources is an important prerequisite to good citizenship.

3. The third objective in the teaching of geography in the grades is to give sympathetic understanding (of necessity, elementary) of the conditions and problems of the peoples of other countries which are associated with, and grow out of the kinds of lands in which they dwell; to help the pupil to get the point of view of foreign peoples. Certainly to view the lives of nations and of communities in relations to their environments provides an indispensible prerequisite to understanding their problems and attitudes and so helps to pave the way for intelligent sympathy and for effective cooperation. 4. The fourth objective is to show the dependence of man on earth conditions and earth resources as the materials bases of social development and to bring out the economic interdependence of the peoples of different countries. Just as an inhabitant of a crowded city cannot live without any relations to his fellowcitizens, so no nation will in the future be able to avoid close association with its neighbors in a world which is fast approaching a crowded state. The pupil should come to realize that, through improved means of transportation and communications, the environment affecting each group of civilized people has come to embrace practically the entire earth. An appreciation of the interdependence of men and of the unity of the

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers



Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 1, 2, June, 2013, pp. 151-182 DOI: 10.4458/0900-14

Remote sensing and interdisciplinary approach for studying volcano environment and activity Maurizio Feaa, Lisetta Giacomellib, Cristiano Pesaresic, Roberto Scandoneb a

Italian Geophysics Association, Rome, Italy Dipartimento di Matematica e Fisica, University of “Roma Tre”, Rome, Italy c Dipartimento di Scienze documentarie, linguistico-filologiche e geografiche, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy b

Email: Received: May 2013 – Accepted: June 2013

Abstract Remote sensing (RS), also known as “Earth Observation (EO)”, is a well-established methodology for multidisciplinary applications and represents a neuralgic tool both for research and didactics, since it makes it possible not only to obtain very useful and interesting data and information but also to implement and make use of an integrated approach for collecting inputs from different sources, processing and interpreting them and presenting the results through a variety of multimedia outputs. That is obviously true also in the case of volcanic environments and activities, in the quiescence, activity and post-event phases. During the last years, the applications of satellite and aerial images, generated from data acquired in different spectral bands, namely in the visible, infrared and microwave parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, have enormously increased. Thus, in this paper, after a brief framework about some basic elements of remote sensing, we above all provide a literary review, underlying some important examples which permit us to develop interdisciplinary approaches and to highlight different fields of application. Then, after having provided some input in a didactic perspective, we synthetically describe the main peculiarities and kind of activities that characterise some volcanoes, for which the European Space Agency (ESA-ESRIN) has provided relevant images. Then, for each volcano, we propose an interpretive analysis of these images, supported by the previous explanations, in order to propose a possible scheme of referral and some guidelines to define a geographical and interdisciplinary framework aimed at showing new didactic and research horizons, where theoretical, methodological and applicative knowledge and skills converge, collaborating in a socially useful operative field. Keywords: Remote Sensing, Satellite and Aerial Images, Interferometry, Volcanoes, Interdisciplinary Approach

1. Some basic elements of remote sensing Images acquired in the Visible, Near- and Mid-Infrared spectral bands show the reflectance Copyright© Nuova Cultura

of solar light by the observed objects, on the Earth’s surface in the case of a clear sky or otherwise from the top of the clouds, when the

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Maurizio Fea, Lisetta Giacomelli, Cristiano Pesaresi, Roberto Scandone

Earth’s surface cannot be observed; in the Thermal Infrared band images provide a thermal map of the surface observed, again terrain or clouds as the atmosphere is not transparent in the optical spectral bands. In the Microwave bands, instead, the radiation has a much longer wavelength and the atmosphere is basically transparent to radar pulses and return echoes. Therefore, radar images permit the observation of the Earth’s surface in all-weather conditions and during the night: the information they provide is related to the object’s surface roughness and electric properties, namely electric conductivity and humidity. A very useful approach is the generation of multispectral images, where the information from different spectral bands is merged in order to increase the significance of the final product. That is very important for the visualization of the data: inserting data from different bands in the three electronic channels RED (R), GREEN (G) and BLUE (B) of a monitor, the interpretation of data is improved by taking into account the “spectral signature” of each object observed. For instance, by inserting into the RGB channels the data acquired in the red, green and blue spectral bands, respectively, the multispectral image offers a view of the observed scene very similar to the one our eyes would see from an aircraft flying over that scene and that band combination is called natural colours; any different one is called false colours. A very useful false colour image is the one where data from the Near Infrared spectral band is inserted into the RED channel of the monitor: in this case, vegetated areas appear in red, because leaves have a very strong reflectance in the Near Infrared band and very little in the Visible band (where the solar light is mostly absorbed by the photosynthesis). Similarly, in a multispectral image where data from different sensors are inserted in the RGB channels the final colours enhance the integrated characteristics of the observed objects as detected by each sensor. Finally, data collected in the Microwave spectral band provides information not only on the intensity (amplitude) of the return signal (echo) but also on its phase: this information is not used to generate an image but is essential to define the distance between the radar and the Copyright© Nuova Cultura

object illuminated by the radar pulse. In fact, when data from Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) are acquired in consecutive passes, an accurate digital elevation model (DEM) of the area can be generated and its changes in time can be detected by processing the phases measured in the various steps: this method is called SAR interferometry (InSAR) and differential interferometry (DInSAR), respectively, through which terrain movements upwards and downwards can be detected and accurately measured. This paper and the literary review which characterises its first part provides some basic elements that would help to better understand the potentialities of remote sensing in an interdisciplinary perspective and support which is here described in specific cases concerning various volcanoes, examined in the second part in a geographical, geophysical and geomatics framework.

2. Aerial and satellite images for studying volcanoes and their activities As underlined in a previous work: “The photographs – which ‘catch’ and reproduce the image of a certain reality at a precise moment – offer us a faithful account of the physical and anthropic peculiarities of the area being investigated and can record any event of geographical importance. Their explicatory value becomes particularly evident during the studies in volcanic environments, as they act as an indispensable support to evaluate the geophysical-morphological evolutions, and to corroborate the considerations on the variations recorded at infrastructural dwelling level. A fundamental contribution can then be given by the photos taken from an airplane (or helicopter)”, just as from satellite ones. The use of these images from very high up “is, for example, more and more frequent in the phases of quiescence or during the return of volcanic activity, insofar as they can give extremely useful pictures of the whole situation in a short time, rich in details, of areas that are difficult to access” (Giacomelli and Pesaresi, 2005, pp. 2324).

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So different researches have for example shown the applicative importance of aerial and satellite images for: 

the study of environment subject to seismic and volcanic events;

the interpretative analysis of the territory and specific morphological aspects (which can be put in clear evidence with Radar Interferometry);

the observation of sensitive areas due to the presence of faults;

the monitoring of volcanoes and ground deformation;

the evaluation of possible directions of lava and pyroclastic flows and volcanic ash clouds;

the particular characteristics of the different phenomena emitted; the potential effects and social consequences of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes;

a general quantitative evaluation, as support to statistical data, of people and buildings subject to risk in the case of a new volcanic event and in relation to the infrastructural and road system of the study areas;

the land use change and vegetation regeneration.

For example Pergola et al. (2004) showed the importance of improving volcanic ash cloud detection by a robust satellite technique. In their work they asserted that “Automated and reliable satellite-based techniques are strongly required for volcanic ash cloud detection and tracking. In fact, volcanic ash clouds pose a serious hazard for air traffic and the synoptic (and possibly frequent) coverage offered by satellites can provide exciting opportunities for monitoring activities as well as for risk mitigation purposes” (p. 1). On the other hand: “Some volcanoes are carefully studied and monitored by means of specific ground-based measurement devices (seismic networks, gas emission measurements, SO2 plume content, electric, magnetic and electromagnetic devices, etc). However, ground based surveillance systems can often be unsatisfactory and inadequate. The event to be Copyright© Nuova Cultura


monitored, in itself, may damage the instruments making them no longer usable. Moreover, a lot of volcanoes are located in inaccessible areas, therefore unreachable by the traditional, in situ surveillance techniques. Furthermore, such methods are absolutely inadequate to monitor large scale and rapid space-time dynamics phenomena like eruptive ash cloud spread and dispersion in atmosphere” (p. 1). Therefore, considering these problematic aspects and the social and economic relevance of having a detailed framework of the situation concerning the direction and density of volcanic ash clouds, it is easy to understand the necessity to experiment specific detection techniques able to provide updated information in near real time; therefore they underlined and discussed the strength points of a dynamic approach, with multi-temporal analysis of historical, long-term satellite records, and of a new ash cloud detection algorithm applied for two eruptions of Mount Etna (Italy) in order to test an innovative strategy of satellite data analysis. In more recent years, Prata (2009) has shown as: “Remote sensing instruments have been used to identify, track and in some cases quantify atmospheric constituents from space-borne platforms for nearly 30 years. These data have proven to be extremely useful for detecting hazardous ash and gas (principally SO2) clouds emitted by volcanoes and which have the potential to intersect global air routes. The remoteness of volcanoes, the sporadic timings of eruptions and the ability of the upper atmosphere winds to quickly spread ash and gas, make satellite remote sensing a key tool for developing hazard warning systems” (p. 303). He concluded that “Vulnerability maps can be developed based on proxies for air traffic densities, which provide a good indication of the air traffic spatial habit. Atmospheric dispersion models are now capable of providing reliable forecasts of volcanic cloud movement for several days from the onset of eruption, provided good injection height information is available. The air traffic density maps, dispersion model runs, volcano locations and wind analyses provide the ingredients to develop scenarios for aviation/volcanic cloud encounters. These scenario generators can be used for examining risks and vulnerabilities and for Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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examining potential problems should HSCT [high-speed civil transport] aircraft become operational” (p. 321). Thus, the synergic integration between geotechnologies, as remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), permit a very important interaction between collaborative fields of scientific research which can generate detailed and socially useful maps. Corradini et al. (2010) underlined the interesting results which can be obtained from the comparison between the volcanic cloud SO2 and ash retrievals derived from different instruments, to have a more specific and exhaustive framework in the case of volcanic events. For example “The Kasatochi 2008 eruption [Alaska] was detected by several infrared satellite sensors including Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), and Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS)” (p. 1) to conduct a rigorous analysis of the eruption. As far as concerns the monitoring of volcanoes with the use of satellite images, in 2005 Pieri and Abrams used thermal infrared images for the observation of thermal anomalies preceding the April 2003 eruption of Chikurachki volcano (Kurile Islands, Russia) and these images showed “that thermal anomalies existed within the summit crater and on one flank of the volcano at least two months before the major explosive eruption in April 2003” (p. 91), giving interesting input regarding volcanic precursor phenomena and possible changes in the state of the volcano. It is worthy of note that in the same year, Tramutoli et al. conducted a study to assess the potential of thermal infrared satellite surveys for monitoring seismically active areas. They set out to propose an approach able “(at least) to exploit, on new scientific bases, already in place and incoming TIR [thermal infrared spectral range] satellite systems offering unique (global coverage, more than 20 years of historical records, high time repetition, low cost etc.) observational capabilities” which take on a very important role “considering the lack of observational systems (having similar space–time coverage) presently available for seismological studies and the lack of knowledge of the physical processes Copyright© Nuova Cultura

associated with earthquake preparation phases that makes it difficult even to identify the right parameters to measure in order to improve such knowledge and our capability to mitigate seismic risk” (2005, pp. 424-425). One year later, in the perspective of the use of remote sensing, and seismotectonic parameters, for geodynamic hazard analysis, Sitharam et al. (2006) showed the relevance of satellite images and remote sensing data in order to identify lineaments and risk elements in the Bangalore area (India). Thanks to the integration of the data concerning past earthquakes, seismotectonic maps, several field studies and the use of satellite remote sensing images, they evaluated the general situation of the study area and proposed a seismic re-classification of this area, suggesting a passage from current Indian Seismic Zone II to Seismic Zone III for Bangalore and its vicinity. Therefore similar works highlighted how as a rigorous and interdisciplinary use of satellite images can provide notable inputs both for volcanic and seismic events, in the prevention phase and in the study of possible precursor phenomena. Furthermore, satellite and aerial images can give an important added value also in the post event phase, for example in the delicate phases of: intervention planning; strategic choices for restarting; evaluation of strategies adopted in the first months immediately following the seismic events; identification of most damaged buildings, monuments and zones which continue to require particular attention. This kind of studies has been recently carried out in order to test a specific methodology and geographical tools for the study of territories damaged by the L’Aquila earthquake of April 6th 2009, after having conducted an overflight of the most damaged Abruzzi localities with equipment made up of photo and thermo cameras to obtain aerial images in both visible and thermal light (Pesaresi and Casagrande, 2012; Pesaresi et al., 2013). Moreover, interesting aspects, regarding the monitoring of volcanic state of activity, had already been offered by Fernández et al. in 2003. In particular, they used satellite techniques for the measurement of ground deformation and showed the added value which can derive from the combination of remote sensing and GPS Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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tools, with an exemplification in the volcanic Island of Tenerife (Canaries, Spain), showing another time the key role of geospatial technologies used in a synergic way. In other cases, specific applications have made it possible to “examine the balance between the volume of magma supplied to the shallow volcanic system (using ground-based SO2 data) and the volume erupted (using satellite thermal data)” (p. 47), as for example in the case of some eruptions of Mount Etna between 2002 and 2006, studied by Steffke et al. in 2011. Furthermore, interesting projects have been carried out in the Phlegraean Fields (Campi Flegrei) and Vesuvius area (Italy) where the monitoring system – together with the studies aimed at the volcanic hazard assessment (Alberico et al., 2011; Bellucci Sessa et al., 2008; Marzocchi and Woo, 2009; Marzocchi et al., 2004; Mastrolorenzo et al., 2006) – constitute an essential element to avoid impressive consequences and social disasters. In fact the levels of risk for the municipalities around these volcanoes are very high due to both the possible explosiveness of a future eruption and above all the amount and density of population and houses (Scandone et al., 1993; Scandone and D’Andrea, 1994; Alberico et al., 2002, 2004; Pesaresi et al., 2008; Petrosino et al., 2004) which would make a strict educational programme for the population necessary (Scandone and Giacomelli, 2012, pp. 31-32). As far as concerns the Phlegraean Fields, the study carried out by Vilardo et al. in 2010 has applied Permanent Scatterers Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (PSInSAR) and GPS “to investigate the most recent surface deformation of the Campi Flegrei caldera. The PSInSAR analysis, based on SAR data acquired by ERS1/2 sensors during the 1992–2001 time interval and by the Radarsat sensor during 2003-2007, identifies displacement patterns over wide areas with high spatial resolution. GPS data acquired by the Neapolitan Volcanic Continuous GPS network provide detailed ground velocity information of specific sites”. Particularly, “the satellite-derived data” has made it possible “to characterize the deformation pattern that affected the Campi Flegrei caldera during two recent subsidence (1992-1999) and uplift (20052006) phases” (p. 2373). To be more precise, the Copyright© Nuova Cultura


Neapolitan Volcanic District (including the Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex, the Phlegraean Fields and the Island of Ischia) has already been under control with satellite and DInSAR (Differential SAR Interferometry) techniques since the beginning of 2000 in the context of the MINERVA project (Monitoring by Interferometric SAR of Environmental Risk in Volcanic Areas), as a result of the collaboration between the Vesuvius Observatory (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology), the European Space Agency and the Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment (National Research Council), and aimed at monitoring the ground movements and deformations continuously and in real time (Tampellini et al., 2004)1. Similarly, the use of advanced SAR Interferometry (InSAR) techniques, which involves mathematically combining different radar images, is permitting in Italy to monitor the behaviour of Mount Etna in order to obtain neuralgic data and information to understand how the volcano’s surface may be deformed during its “breathing” and prior to and during the emission of magma2. On the other hand, this methodology has interesting applications also for the study of the surface deformations in the case of seismic events and during the phase of the following aftershocks, as in the L’Aquila earthquake of April 6th 2009, where the use of InSAR and the integration of two or more radar images of the same ground location, before and after an earthquake, supports important and precise measurements and elaborations useful in terms of monitoring and analysis3. Moreover, satellite images are useful for “obtaining information on the surfaces and volumes of the lava field flows, but also on its nature and behavior” and for developing 1

See also _the_Earth/Envisat/Renewed_volcanic_activity_at_the_ Phlegrean_Fields_tracked_by_Envisat; http://www. esa. int/ Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Satellites _join _watch_on_Naples_volcanic_hinterland. 2 _the_ Earth / Envisat/Hot_stuff_15_years_of_satellite_data_ over_ Mt._nobr_Etna_nobr. 3 _the_ Earth /Envisat/Satellites_show_how_Earth_moved_ during_Italy_quake. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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automatic mapping processes of the lava flows. For example this kind of application can be very useful in “a tropical environment such as La Reunion [Indian Ocean], where the climatological context presents a strong cloudiness”, as shown by Servadio et al. in 2012 (p. 201), and there is the need to define rigorous systems based on the combination of thermal images and images acquired in the visible and near infrared in a technological environment where different data can be integrated, mapped and analyzed. In a similar perspective also aimed at saving time and effort for mapping processes and at reducing the risks due to fieldwork on active volcanoes, Kahle et al. since 1995, referring to Mauna Loa (Hawaii), had underlined that: “The availability of digital multispectral data, acquired from satellite or airborne instruments, offers specific information relating to the chemical and physical state of eruptive products” (p. 145). From a more general point of view, Tralli et al. in 2005 have affirmed that: “Satellite remote sensing is providing a systematic, synoptic framework for advancing scientific knowledge of the Earth as a complex system of geophysical phenomena that, directly and through interacting processes, often lead to natural hazards. Improved and integrated measurements along with numerical modeling are enabling a greater understanding of where and when a particular hazard event is most likely to occur and result in significant socioeconomic impact” (p. 185). Therefore the accurate analysis of satellite images is becoming a neuralgic factor in the context of decision support, disaster management and strategic planning in areas subject to high risk. Particularly they provided a series of important considerations and exemplifications concerning earthquake, volcano, flood, landslide and coastal inundation hazards, showing the numerous fields of application where remote sensing can determine significant developments in terms of risk management. In fact, the combined use of satellite images and other geotechnologies can support the experimentation of innovative and integrated methodologies and can be useful to deal with different kinds of natural events. Thus, an interesting review paper, written by Ramsey and Harris (2013), has recently Copyright© Nuova Cultura

summarized advances in volcanological remote sensing and has offered some exemplifications concerning the use of satellite images “for detection, monitoring, and modeling of volcanic activity”, underlining that the developments achieved are due to “a vast array of new satellite sensors, the application of new technologies, and the involvement of an increasing number of scientists working in the field of thermal remote sensing of volcanoes around the world” (p. 228). Sensitive developments can be obtained only with a continuous test of new technologies in a rigorous interdisciplinary approach, which must not be considered as the sum of single parts and fields of research but as a whole approach where the different scientific sectors provide inputs for an overall optimum. Surely in this delicate process of skills and knowledge, union and convergence, geography can take on a very strategic role, because there is the need to make an evaluation in a framework of systems – and with the support of geomatics – of the geophysical, geological, social-demographic, economic, historical and archaeological aspects.

3. The didactic perspective As far as concerns the didactic perspective, the possible benefits which can derive from a rigorous observation and interpretation of satellite and aerial images are equally notable, for many reasons. First of all, similar images provide a great deal of important didactic information, stimulating the theoretical, methodological and applicative knowledge and skills. They are moreover beautiful and impressive and capture the attention of students and researchers observing them, supporting the processes of meticulous analysis of the photos and consequently of the specific details and relations among elements, into a general context which permit several considerations regarding the whole framework and the relationship between the different elements. Furthermore, satellite and aerial images promote a participative and collaborative analysis among people with different competences and attitudes. In this way, as affirmed by Bignante (2011, p. 160), it is possible to “directly involve the participants in visual research activity”, so as to better highlight Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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the “relationships between subjects and social spaces” (p. 158). Therefore: “Education, exchange, empowerment are the objectives of these processes, in which what is important is not only the production of new knowledge, but also the setting off, […], of social change processes, creating greater awareness, selfesteem and trust in people”. Similar considerations acquire particular meaning in the case of volcanic risk and hazard, because the importance of educational level, social participation and awareness of the danger is evident. From a didactic point of view, interesting inputs have been for example recently provided by volume 37 (number 2) of the journal Teaching Geography, which focus the attention on risks, with different papers that underline: the implications of living subject to natural disasters, or other kind of risks, and the geographical and pedagogic keys of analysis (Lane, 2012); the “conceptualising” of risk and the need of a engaging discussion between teachers and students, who should be involved in well organized and safe fieldwork which provide excellent opportunities to experience and learn about risks (Cook, 2012) and to expand their geographical horizons with an exciting approach (House et al., 2012); new educational strategies to “incorporate” fieldworks in personal scheme of work in the classrooms, equipped with computer, satellite images, maps, data regarding the density and distribution of population and other materials useful to simulate a volcanic eruption or a hurricane and their impacts, in order to create a participative and collaborative atmosphere, where students work in groups for making analysis, evaluate different data, propose interventions and experience a dynamic and very interesting learning process of geography (Hill, 2012). In all these cases, the satellite images have relevant and different didactical potentialities and make it possible to work with innovative, engaging and targeted strategies that exalt the theoretical-applicative and socialeducational roles of geography. Particularly, in the case of volcanic environments, satellite and aerial images can provide important information regarding: 

morphological aspects, the physiognomy of the main crater, the eventual presence

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of secondary eruptive craters and the possible changes recorded in time; 

the existence of particular elements which could hinder or favour the propagation of different flows;

the main phenomena produced by an eruption and the height of ash and gas cloud or the distance reached by lava and pyroclastic flows;

the eventual modification recorded in the eruption state and in terms of volcanic structure, above all for very explosive events which can strongly demolish the volcanic edifice;

the number of houses (and consequently of people) and monuments which are potentially subject to risk in the area;

the urban characteristics and structure, the road system, and in case of aerial images with high resolution and big geographical scale the presence of sensitive buildings (industries, hospitals, schools);

the cultivated soils, the land use and its variations in time.

An interesting study in this sense was conducted in 2000 by Mouginis-Mark. In his work, aimed to show the importance of remote sensing observations for volcano monitoring and hazard mitigation, he also showed the possible applications of satellite images concerning different years to illustrate and evaluate the rate of re-vegetation of the summit of the Mount Pinatubo (Philippines) whose last eruption was recorded in 1991. Similar aims have also been pursued by Kuzera et al. (2007), who applied the potential of remote sensing, satellite images in false colour and change vector analysis for monitoring vegetation regeneration and deforestation in the proximity of Mount St. Helens (United States) – responsible for the violent eruption of 1980 – between 1986 and 1996. The information which can be derived from remote sensing is very useful both for highly explosive volcanoes, whose eruption could provoke social disasters, and for prevalently effusive volcanoes, which however may determine damage to buildings, historical and

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cultural heritage, cultivated lands. In this perspective, satellite and aerial images are precious tools to apply theoretical knowledge in a didactic process which allows the use of the visual language of geography. Thus, it is for example possible to make comparisons between: volcanoes with similar eruptive characteristics and social-demographic aspects; volcanoes with similar eruptive characteristics but very different social-demographic aspects; volcanoes with different eruptive characteristics and consequently different eruptive phenomena. During this comparative observation and interpretation of images concerning various volcanoes it is possible to investigate the causes which have brought about particular conditions, to carry out research on the main historical phases and activities, to analyse the possible interventions necessary to reduce the level of risks and to support the alarming phases in the case of emergency. Therefore thanks to satellite images, which if georeferenced can also be imported and analysed in the GIS platform, it is possible to promote dynamic interesting lessons aimed at acquiring important tools, skills and knowledge in order to support a bidirectional and synergic interaction between research and didactics. The analysis of images in false colours and radar images is also exciting and useful both at educational level and for a professional future, since it is possible to obtain a series of additional information and data which stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration and improved computer skills and are able to open new didactic and research horizons. On the other hand, students have now a “natural” computer skill predisposition and generally know the technical use of image visualizers from the air and satellites, so that they are ready for the acquisition of more complex and specific skills, which must be supported by an appropriate and rigorous didactic approach which is usually absent in Italian schools (Pesaresi, 2012).

4. The volcanoes of the islands of Hawaii Hawaii is made up of a series of volcanic islands and underwater mountains which streatchi for 2,400 km in the Pacific Ocean. Their formation is attributed to the presence of a

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source of deep heat (called hotspot), anchored to the Earth’s mantle. The oldest islands are about 75 million years old, are not longer active and have been dragged towards the North-West by the movement of the lithospheric plate of the Pacific. The more recent ones, Maui (active until 1759) and Hawaii (subject to almost uninterrupted volcanic activity), are at the other end of the chain. Of the three volcanoes of the northern sector of the island, only Hualalai has had eruptions in recent times in 1800-1801 (the brief darker flow on the left hand slope of the volcano). Mauna Loa (Long Mountain, in Hawaiian), is a huge volcano over 4,000 m above sea level, to which are added 5,000 m underwater and another 8,000 m of volcanic structure sunk into the ocean plate. At the top the Mokuaweoweo caldera (“Moku” refers to a coastal land section or islet; “`aweoweo” is a type of red Hawaiian fish. Literal translation is fish section; the red of the fish suggests red lava) represents the point of encounter of two rift zones along which are aligned numerous craters. The activity consists in fluid lava flows which run down to the ocean, often accompanied by fountains of lava. In July 1975, after a period of quiescence of 25 years, in only two days it erupted 30 million square metes of lava. From 1843 to 1984, the date of the last eruption, it has had 33 eruptions. On the south-eastern side of Mauna Loa, is Kilauea, a volcano 1,200 m above sea level and extending for 3,700 m underwater. It began to form about 300,000-600,000 years ago and emerged from the sea as an island perhaps 50,000-100,000 years ago. About 90% of the surface of Kilauea is formed of lava flows less than about 1,100 years old; 70% of the volcano’s surface is younger than 600 years. The caldera at the summit, 4 km long, 3.2 km wide and about 120 m deep, contains the circular crater, l’Halema’uma’u, inside which a lava lake often stagnates. During the beginning of May (2013) the circulating lava lake occasionally rose and fell in the deep pit. On the eastern rift are numerous cones aligned and pit craters (Chain of Craters), among which the Pu’u O’o, where an eruption has been going on since January 1983 . The southern side of the volcano towards the ocean, is interrupted by almost vertical faults Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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that form a slope of 300 m. In 1912 the American Geological Survey built the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the edge of the Halema’uma’u caldera. 4.1 Analysis of the images concerning the volcanoes of Hawaii The image of the Island of Hawaii, generated from data acquired by the Thematic Mapper (TM) instrument of the Landsat-5 satellite on 15 July 2000 (Figure 1), is visualized in false colours through the RGB 742 combination, namely by inserting data detected by the TM Mid-Infrared band 7 sensor in the RED channel of the monitor, data from the Near-Infrared band 4 in the GREEN channel, and the green-yellow Visible band 2 in the BLUE channel. The sea water appears black, since it absorbs the solar light totally in these three spectral bands. Small good-weather cumulus clouds are


visible in white with their black shadows (image taken in early morning, sun illuminating from SE) over the planes in the North-East and in the South-West, whereas more compact cloudiness appears over the northern areas. Looking only at the satellite image, the whitish colours at the centre could be interpreted either as water vapour smokes from the caldera of Mauna Loa or as some cloudiness developed around it or possibly both: ground information would certainly help to resolve the question! Green areas along the coasts indicate the presence of healthy vegetation (strong signal in the NIR band), probably forest and woods. The radar image was acquired in the Microwave spectral band by the ASAR instrument of the ESA Envisat satellite on 10 May 2010 (Figure 2); as it is not georeferenced, it must be rotated clockwise by 10° in order to become geographically corrected.

Figure 1. Island of Hawaii, Thematic Mapper, Landsat-5, 15 July 2000, RGB 742. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

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Figure 2. Island of Hawaii, radar image, ASAR, ESA Envisat, 10 May 2010. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Like most SAR images, it provides a cloudand smoke-free view of the territory and enhances the terrain topography in detail because of the radar oblique viewing: it shows the high crater of Mauna Kea in the Northern side, the wide caldera of Mauna Loa at the centre, and the caldera of Kilauea just on the right hand side. It also depicts the gentle volcanic slopes that encompass the whole Island and the cliffs along the coast. In addition, the oblique viewing marks the slopes differently that are oriented towards the satellite, making then appear brighter and more compressed, from those oriented in the opposite direction, which appear darker and stretched; this effect is proportional to the slopeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s local incidence angle: the smaller the angle brighter and the more compressed the ones towards the satellite (darker and more stretched the opposite ones). CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

5. Mount St. Helens Mount St. Helens is an active volcano, located in the Western Cascade Range of North America. Its volcanic activity is usually divided into nine eruptive periods, from the beginning dated about 40-50,000 years ago, until 2,200 years ago, when effusive and explosive eruption formed the older St. Helens edifice. It was the most active volcano in the Cascade Range during the Holocene, but few lava flows extended beyond the base of the volcano. The modern edifice has no traces of glacial erosion, so it is possible to establish that it was constructed during the last 2,200 years. Historical eruptions in the 19th century originated from the Goat Rocks area on the north flank, and were witnessed by early settlers. Before May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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formed a conical, youthful volcano, the smallest of the Washington State big volcanoes. It was so perfectly symmetrical that it looked almost the same from any direction. During the 1980 eruption, the upper 400 m of the summit were removed by slope failure, leaving a 2 x 3.5 km horseshoe-shaped crater, now partially filled by two lava domes. The triggering landslide was caused by the collapse of a bulge growing on the North flank of Mount St. Helens and hiding an intrusion of magma. The spectacular 1980 eruption, initiated with small phreatic explosions, reached the paroxysmal phase when the slope failure decompressed the magma stopped near to the surface, resulting in a violent lateral blast which completely devastated 550 km2 of forest along with the lives of 57 people. The eruption continued for eight hours with a vertical column plume and pyroclastic flows. Several more eruptions occurred in the summer of 1980. Episodic activity lasted until 1986 with the slow effusion of a dome within the crater. The eruption renewed in 2004 to 2008 with the grown of a new dome next to the previous one.


5.1 Analysis of the images concerning the Mount St. Helens Satellite data, acquired by the ETM instrument of Landsat-7 satellite on 17 October 2002 over the Mount St. Helens region (Figure 3), is visualized in false colours (RGB 742) and shows the forested area and the lakes in the region and the icy top of the Mount Adam on the right hand side. The image illustrates also the northwards wide mud flow and the pyroclastic flow that were caused by the collapse of the upper part of the volcanic cone during the eruption on 18 May 1980 and on which no vegetation has grown till today. The image generated from the data acquired by the AVNIR2 instrument of the ALOS satellite on 10 October 2006 (not fully georeferenced, since it should be still rotated by some 3° clockwise) confirms the above considerations in both visualizations (Figures 4 and 5), namely in natural colours (RGB 321) and false colours (RGB 431): the mud icy flow caused by the volcanic explosion arrived to the Spirit Lake and still today has not allowed vegetation to grow on it again.

Figure 3. Mount St. Helens region, ETM, Landsat-7, 17 October 2002, RGB 742. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Figure 4. Mount St. Helens, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 10 October 2006, RGB 321. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 5. Mount St. Helens, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 10 October 2006, RGB 431. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Figure 6. Mount St. Helens, radar image, ASAR, ESA Envisat, 4 September 2009. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

The radar image, acquired by the ASAR instrument of the ESA Envisat satellite on 4 September 2009 (Figure 6), shows the St. Helens volcanic mountain in the middle and well illustrates the collapse of the upper conic top and the consequent wide caldera oriented northwards: in fact, the image is not georeferenced and has to be rotated 10° clockwise to obtain the correct geographic orientation. The Spirit Lake appears as a sort of bow with variable grey tones, more or less bright, most probably due to wind effect in making rough the surface of the lake waters and generating radar echoes back to the satellite; at the contrary, the Coldwater Lake at NNW appears as a black elongated spot, since calm water acts as a mirror to the radar pulse illuminating it and reflects them away, whereby no radar echoes return back to the

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satellite: a situation of no signal back is visualized in black tones, meaning that the surface of the illuminated object is flat and not rough. 6. Mount Pinatubo Mount Pinatubo is one of the highest peaks along a chain of volcanoes that constitutes the Luzon volcanic arc in Philippine. Prior to 1991 it was a relatively unknown, heavily forested lava dome complex located 100 km NW of Manila with no records of historical eruptions. Its top consisted of a rounded, steep-sided, domelike mass that rose about 700 meters above a broad, gently sloping, deeply dissected apron. The basal apron is composed of voluminous pyroclastic flow and lahar (pyroclastic flow and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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volcanic mud flow) deposits, which told of large prehistoric explosive eruptions. At least six major eruptive periods, interrupted by lengthy quiescent periods, have occurred during the past 35,000 years. After more than four centuries, Pinatubo awoke in June, 1991. The eruption, one of the world’s largest of the 20th century, second in size only to an eruption in Katmai, Alaska, in 1912, and ten times larger than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, lowered the height of the summit from 1,745 to 1,486 m and created a new, 2.5-kilometer-diameter wide caldera, centered slightly northwest of the pre-eruption summit. The caldera formed because of the collapse of the volcano’s summit on June 15, during a period of severe, large earthquakes in response to withdrawal of a large volume of magma, about 5 cubic km, from the reservoir beneath the volcano. A lake began to fill the caldera in September, 1991. During the eruption, a giant ash cloud rose 30-35 km into the sky above the volcano’s vent and hot blasts seared the countryside. Valleys that had existed in the pyroclastic apron were largely filled by eruptive products; valleys that had been carved into older volcanic terrain, and partly filled by prehistoric eruptions, were partly filled once again. Tephra-fall deposits, 5 cm or more thick, buried crops and covered a land area of about 4,000 square km surrounding Pinatubo. The weight of the tephra, rain-saturated by typhoon Yunya, caused numerous roofs collapses in the Philippine communities and on the two large U.S. military bases. Clark Air Base lies to the east of the volcano, within 25 km of the summit, and Subic Bay Naval Station is about 40 km to the southwest. For months, the ejected volcanic materials remained suspended in the atmosphere where the winds dispersed them to envelope the Earth, reaching as far as Russia and North America. Before the eruption, more than 30,000 people lived in small villages on the volcano’s flanks. A much larger population, about 500,000, continues to live in cities and villages around the

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alluvial fans surrounding the volcano. Philippine authorities were able to evacuate 60,000 people from the slopes and valleys, and the American military evacuated 18,000 personnel and their dependents from Clark Air Base. But more than 800 people lay dead, 184 injured, 23 missing, and more than 1 million people displaced. Widespread lahars that redistributed products of the 1991 eruption have continued to cause severe disruption. Most of these have produced major pyroclastic flows and lahars that were even more extensive than in 1991. 6.1 Analysis of the images concerning Mount Pinatubo Satellite images demonstrate that the relatively recent situation of the volcanic mountain Pinatubo still show some important signs of the terrible explosion that caused major impacts in the region and around the world on 12 June 1991. Optical image data acquired by the ETM instrument of the Landsat-7 satellite on 26 November 2001 (Figure 7), just ten years after the eruption, and visualized in false colours (RGB 742) shows in black colours the water lake that was formed in the caldera within few months after the explosion and in grey tones the material debris transported by many lahars that tragically affected the local population in several instances. An image generated by data, acquired by the AVNIR-2 instrument of ALOS on 6 December 2009 (Figure 8), 18 years after the event shows that no major changes occurred afterwards: in blue colours the water lake is still in the caldera and in light grey tones the material debris transported by lahars is still apparent. When considering the vegetation, the visualization in natural colours (RGB 321) confirms the recovery of the tropical forest after that destructive event: dark green indicates dense and healthy forest, whereas lighter green suggests less dense and possibly shrub type of vegetation. The same is illustrated by the false colour visualization (RGB 431), where red and orange-brown have the same meaning of the dark and light green, respectively (Figure 9).

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Figure 7. Mount Pinatubo, ETM, Landsat-7, 26 November 2001, RGB 742. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 8. Mount Pinatubo, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 6 December 2009, RGB 321. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Figure 9. Mount Pinatubo, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 6 December 2009, RGB 431. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

The eruption was so strong that the ash plume reached the lower levels of the stratosphere and, at that latitude, was trapped by easterly winds and created an opaque ash cloud that, as mentioned above, for almost one year disturbed satellite observations. In particular, it affected directly the measurements of sea surface temperatures in the equatorial regions, which had to be stopped because the ash cloud strongly absorbed the outgoing Thermal Infrared radiation, making the ocean surfaces appearing much colder than they

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actually were and no corrections were possible due to the random characteristics of that effect. The radar image, acquired by the ASAR instrument of Envisat on 15 September 2011 (Figure 10), illustrates the topography of the Pinatubo area very well: the volcanic mountain stands out in the centre of the image and the flattish mud flown down westwards can be distinguished on the left of the volcano at the time of the eruption, on top of which vegetation prevailed and grew again in that tropical region.

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Figure 10. Mount Pinatubo, radar image, ASAR, Envisat, 15 September 2011. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

7. Piton de la Fournaise and the Reunion Island The massive Piton de la Fournaise is a basaltic shield volcano, located in the South-East of Reunion Island, with an elevation of 2,631 meters, grown by repeated extrusion of lava from the summit area and from fissures on its flanks. The volcano is similar in many respects to Hawaiian ones, both growing on the flanks of much larger shield volcanoes in intraplate tectonic environments, above a “hotspot” or melting anomaly in the upper mantle. Much of its more than 530,000 year history overlapped with eruptions of the extinct Piton des Neiges shield volcano, located to the NorthWest of the Island. The structural features of Fournaise are a summit caldera and down faulted trough, a family of broadly curving faults that are nested around the caldera, and three rift zones. Numerous scoria cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

The nested faults become younger to the East-South-East and record one of the effects of a migration of the focus of volcanism, which has advanced at least 30 km in that direction from neighbouring Piton des Neiges. It is possibly to identify at least three periods of caldera collapse, at around 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5,000 years ago. Each of the caldera collapses has been probably breached by large landslides and by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano, like those that occur on the south flank of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. In the last 300 years, it has been one of the world’s most active volcanoes, with more than 100 eruptions of fluid basaltic lava flows. Most of historical eruptions originated from the summit and flanks of a 400-meter-high lava shield that grew within the youngest caldera (Enclos Fouqué), which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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the outer flanks of the caldera. The last eruption occurred in 2010. From 14 August, to 10 September, an increase in the number and magnitude of earthquakes was recorded. Inflation of the summit area began in late August and on 13 September there was a localized deformation West of the Dolomieu crater. On 24 September, a seismic crisis occurred in conjunction with 3 cm of inflation, characterized by several tens of earthquakes located beneath Dolomieu crater. The eruption began on 14 October from a fissure near the Château Fort crater, about 1.5 km South-East of the Dolomieu crater rim, after a new seismic crisis detected a few hours before. Lava fountains were 10-15 m high, and rose from two vents. By 16 October, a lava flow had travelled 1.6 km, confined inside the Fouqué caldera. It continued to be active and to travel East-SouthEast until 27 October, while lava fountains occurred from four vents and a small lava lake was observed in the cone. The next day tremor slightly decreased, and then significantly decreased on 2930 October, when the eruption stopped. Reunion Island was known to the Arabs and visited by the Portuguese in the early 1500s. The first of its known eruptions was in 1640, and France claimed the Island around 1662. It has been French virtually continuously since then. Settlers moved in from 1715, and 600,000 people now live on the 2,510 square km Island. A modern volcano observatory was established there in 1980. 7.1 Analysis of the images concerning the Piton de la Fournaise and the Reunion Island The optical images of the Reunion Island, acquired by the AVNIR-2 instrument of the ALOS satellite on 29 August 2009 (Figures 11 and 12), show the entire Island, partly covered by cumulonimbus clouds, in two different visualizations: in natural colours (RGB 321) and in false colours (RGB 431). Both colour combinations make it possible to identify forested areas and the two main volcanic areas, the one of Piton des Neiges and Alizés on the left, both extinct thousands of years ago, and the other of the younger and active Piton de la Fournaise on

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the right. However, the false colour combination allows a better discrimination among different situations: lack of RED colour certainly indicates lack of healthy vegetation, but also the different cyan tones are related to different objects: more greenish (or less bluish) is due to the prevailing of the signal from the red spectral band with respect to the signal detected in the blue band of the Visible, which often is the case for barren lands and urban areas. The grey-bluish tones suggest bear soils and, in the South, possibly old flows of lava and debris. Recent lava flows are illustrated by the dark tones in the eastern and south-eastern areas up to the coast, and the dark area on the right shows the collapsed caldera from where they were originating. In fact, a confirmation comes from the radar image, acquired by the ASAR instrument of the Envisat satellite on 22 May 2010 (Figure 13). Here, the volcanic building, collapsed towards the sea eastwards is well visible on the right hand side. The light grey tones along the coast are due to the multiple reflection of radar pulses by buildings and illustrate the distribution of villages all around the Island, often threatened by volcanic lava flows. The Reunion Island has been systematically studied by making use of differential interferometry techniques (DInSAR) and thousands of interferograms have been generated by scientists in cooperation with the European Space Agency, in order to monitor the volcanic activity in the Island. On 30 March and 4 April 2007 two eruptive mouths appeared, the first one in the primary cone near Chateau Fort and the second in the caldera at the basis of the Grandes Pentes; this latter produced magma fountains up to 100 m high and very fast lava flows that in a few hours arrived at sea, by crossing the coastal road. Due to the mafma output, the top of the Dolomieu crater underwent an enormous collapse, creating the huge depression 300 m deep that can be easily observed in the radar image: it corresponds to some 50 millions cubic metres of material having disappeared from the site! The optical image showing the Island and the surrounding ocean was acquired by the instrument MERIS of the Envisat satellite on 5 April 2007 and illustrates the ash and gas plume from the volcano after the eruption (Figure 14).

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Figure 11. Reunion Island, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 29 August 2009, RGB 321. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 12. Reunion Island, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 29 August 2009, RGB 431. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Figure 13. Reunion Island, radar image, ASAR, Envisat, 22 May 2010. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 14. Reunion Island and the surrounding ocean, MERIS, Envisat, 5 April 2007. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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8. Mount Etna Mount Etna, towering above Catania, is an active basaltic strato-volcano, the highest and most voluminous in Italy. It has one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BC. Its base, formed by products of older eruptions, has a diameter of over 33 km and a surface of 1,600 km2. The Steep summit cone, the Mongibello, is the most recent part on which four craters are to be found: Bocca Nuova, Voragine, North-East Crater and South-East Crater. The Voragine was formed first before 1950 and the Bocca Nuova in 1968. The North-East Crater was formed at 3,100 m in 1911 and was continuously active between 1960 and 1970. In 1978 it reached 3,345 m above sea level. The South-East Crater has existed since 1971 and got bigger after 1978. It was particularly active from 1998, and in January 2001 reached 3,300 m high, overtaking the height of the other cones with eruption of August of the same year. Since 2004 it often has Strombolian explosions, with episodes of violent fountains of lava and columns of ash, which have change its shape and dimension. On the eastern side of the volcano is the Valle del Bove, a depression 8 km long and 5 wide, formed around 60,000 years ago by landslide, perhaps triggered by the explosive eruptions. The slopes, to very low levels, are dotted with cones of the lateral eruptions of various dimensions. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur at Etna. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more of the four prominent summit craters. Flank eruptions, typically with higher effusion rates, occur less frequently and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit. Geologically Etna forms part of the convergence processes which began millions of years ago, and of ongoing compression processes between the African and European plates. The powerful thrusts between continents Copyright© Nuova Cultura


create fractures in the Earth’s crust that are so deep as to facilitate the formation and rising of magmas to the surface. Between 700,000 and 200,000 years ago, the eruptions (called pre-Etnean) took place in a gulf that stretched over the area included between the Monti Peloritani and Iblei. Of the lavas that emerged below sea level the spectacular rock of Aci Castello can still be seen, while examples of intrusions that have remained under the marine sediments are to be seen in the Isole dei Ciclopi. About170,000 years ago, there might have been a wide cone above sea level (ancient or primordial Etna) and, about 90,000 years ago, of numerous active centres corresponding to today’s volcano. 40,000 years ago the structure of the Mongibello began to be defined, which about 15,000 years ago collapsed to form a crater of about 4 km in diameter, called the Ellittico, in which the present Mongibello grew. Of the historical eruptions the one of 1614-24 can be remembered for its duration, the one of 1669, which destroyed part of Catania and, among the more recent ones, the one of 1991-93, known also for the attempts to divert the lava flows. Particularly after 2001, the episodes with columns of ash, usually between 2 and 5 km high, have had serious repercussions on air traffic and the economy of the area. 8.1 Analysis of the images concerning the Mount Etna The satellite image of Sicily was acquired by the MERIS instrument of Envisat on 14 May 2011 (Figure 15) and is visualized in natural colours (for this 15 bands superspectral instrument the natural colours are achieved by using its bands 7, 5 and 2 respectively). It shows the eastern location of the Mount Etna and its cloudy cap during a period of no remarkable volcanic activity. The dark brownish colours of the higher part of the mountain illustrate the volcanic nature of the terrain and traces of recent and old lava flows. Another image, acquired by the TM instrument of Landsat-5 on 10 September 2008 shows, instead, the mountain during an eruption: the visualization in natural Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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colours (RGB 321) demonstrates that the erupting mouths were two, one just at SW of the other and even at this scale the two smoke columns are seen merging a few km South, driven by northerly winds (Figure 16). In this image the harbour of the city of Catania can be noticed along the coast in the SE: during strong eruptions, the airport of Catania is closed because of the danger caused by ash plumes. If the same image is visualized in a combination of false colours to enhance vegetation, namely RGB 431 (Figure 17), then the different lava flows becomes evident in dark grey or black tones, whilst the ash plume is detectable as a light bluish filament reaching the western part of Catania. When, instead, the image is visualized still in false colours but with a different combination (RGB 742), which includes the Mid-Infrared of the TM band 7, then the actual lava can also be seen, namely as a red flow blowing out of a mouth opened eastwards the smoking craters (Figure 18).

The instrument illuminated the volcanic building from the East during a descending orbit (North Pole to South Pole), therefore the eastern slope containing the old collapsed Bove Valley is compressed and very bright, whilst the western one is much darker and stretched. The city of Catania can be localised in the SE by the white spots caused by the multiple reflections of the town buildings. Etna is also monitored continuously by scientists and the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) of Italy through DInSAR techniques. Specifically, the volcano “breathing” is kept under control by using long time series of differential interferograms measured from space through the SAR instruments of ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and COSMO-SkyMed satellites, whereby inflation and deflation movements are monitored at centimetric level from a thousand km aloft; that also makes it possible to calculate the volume of magma involved in the volcanic activities of Mount Etna.

The radar image acquired by the ASAR instrument of Envisat demonstrates the isolated structure of Mount Etna (Figure 19).

Figure 15. Sicily, MERIS, Envisat, 14 May 2011. Source: ESA-ESRIN. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

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Figure 16. Mount Etna, TM, Landsat-5, 10 September 2008, RGB 321. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 17. Mount Etna, TM, Landsat-5, 10 September 2008, RGB 431. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

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Figure 18. Mount Etna, TM, Landsat-5, 10 September 2008, RGB 742. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 19. Mount Etna, radar image, ASAR, Envisat, 6 April 2009. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

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9. Vesuvius Vesuvius is an active volcano, located on Italy’s West coast, which has produced the most recent eruptions in the Campanian plain. It overlooks the Bay and City of Naples and sits in the crater of the ancient Somma volcano, so much so that the Somma-Vesuvio complex is known as enclosure volcano. Its activity spans the period between 25,000 years ago and recent times. The oldest products, the Codola pumice formation, overlie the products of the so-called “Campanian Ignimbrite”, dated at 39,000 years ago. One of the most violent eruption of Vesuvius, called the “Pomici Basali or Sarno eruption”, took place about 17,000 years ago. Other eight Plinian or Subplinian eruptions occurred after 17,000 years, the last three of which were recorded in 79 AD and which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 472 and 1631. The 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius gave the name of “Plinian” to any large volcanic eruption, because of Pliny the Younger, a Roman historian who wrote the oldest surviving description of an explosive volcanic event. This term has long been used to describe large-volume, violent eruptions that produce sustained mushroom-shaped clouds of pyroclasts and gases, which rise tens of km into the atmosphere. After 79 AD, two large eruptions are reported in 472 and 512, and several others may be verified in 685, 787, 968, 991, 993 and 999. The last eruption, before a long quiescent period, occurred on the 1st of June 1139. According to various sources, it was a strong explosive eruption. It lasted eight days and ashes covered Salerno, Benevento, Capua and Naples. Following this no reliable report of volcanic activity is available until 1500. Probably no eruption occurred from 1500 until to 1631, because records are good during that period, and none mention volcanic activity. Then, in the night between 15 and 16 December of 1631, another considerable explosive eruption began. Several months before, people near the volcano felt some earthquakes. The seismic activity, which must considered as an important precursory phenomenon, became more severe in the days leading up to the eruption, whose paroxysmal stage went on for two days. Copyright© Nuova Cultura


This eruption has a role of great importance also owing to the fact that it is often considered the Maximum event expected should Vesuvius, around which are towns with highest population density in Italy, become active once again in the medium to short term. From 1631 the volcano entered a stage of almost persistent activity with numerous effusive-explosive eruptions that lasted, with a few breaks, until 1944. During this period the main explosive eruptions were of limited magnitude but displayed a peculiar trend. The eruptions always began with an effusive phase, with lava outpouring from a fracture in the cone or from the rim of the cone. After a few days of such activity, accompanied by mild Strombolian explosions, a more explosive phase followed with lava fountaining up to 2-4 km height. The last phase, characterized by the formation of a sustained eruption column, 5-15 km high, was followed by a collapse in the central crater. After the most violent phase and the collapse of the crater, a period of quiescence went on for several years. Quiet lava emissions characterized the new outbreak of activity. The last eruption of Vesuvius was recorded in 1944, and the still lasting quiescent period is much longer than the reposes observed in the period 1631-1944. The possible future activity at Vesuvius represents a great demographic, social and economic menace to the busy surrounding cities, including the metropolis of Naples. 9.1 Analysis of the images concerning Vesuvius The mountain of Vesuvius is here illustrated by making use of satellite images at different resolution, thereby with different details, in order to demonstrate the use of remote sensing methodology at different scales. To start with, the image acquired by the MERIS instrument of Envisat on 11 April 2011 at 300 m of ground resolution (Figure 20) shows most of the Campania region and permits a better understanding of the geological structure of the area, where two clear volcanic cones are visible: Roccamonfina in the NW and Vesuvius in the Neapolitan area. By using TM data acquired by Landsat-5 RGB 321 on 26 June 2010 at 30 m Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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resolution (Figure 21), the danger of a volcanic eruption of Vesuvius becomes evident: the mountain, whose caldera is clearly visible on its top, is surrounded by an extremely dense urbanisation in the province of Naples, which includes the city and its important harbour on the west side and the tragically famous villages of Herculaneum and Pompeii on the south-east side. The radar image, generated by microwave data acquired by the ASAR instrument of Envisat on 2 October 2010 (Figure 22), confirms the characteristic terrain topography and the ASAR side-looking from the East deforms the volcanic cone by compressing and making brighter the eastern volcanic slope, whilst stretching and making the western part of the mountain darker, and deforming the caldera westwards, which in addition appears black because of the radar shadow, that is to say that no radar pulses can reach its lower levels inside and no radar echoes can be generated.

This dramatic contrast between natural hazard and human development is even more noticeable in optical false colour combinations, where the original scene data set is still the same (the 7 optical bands acquired simultaneously by the TM instrument), but different triplets of spectral bands are visualized on the screen. The Landsat-5 RGB 431 one is very impressive (Figure 23), because vegetation appears in red (strong leaf signal in the Near Infrared Landsat-5 band 4) and urban areas in cyan tones (very little or no red colour, due to lack of vegetation in built-up zones): here, one can better appreciate that human housing â&#x20AC;&#x153;climbsâ&#x20AC;? on the volcanic flank, particularly on the SW side, where the coastal land available is very limited; the RGB 742 one (Figure 24) shows vegetation in bright green (spectral band 4) and urban areas in magenta (lack of vegetation), and takes advantage of the important reflectance of minerals and cement in the Mid Infrared spectral band (No. 7 in the TM of Landsat-5).

Figure 20. Most of the Campania region, MERIS, Envisat, 11 April 2011. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Figure 21. Vesuvius and the near municipalities, TM, Landsat-5, 26 June 2010, RGB 321. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 22. Vesuvius, radar image, ASAR, Envisat, 2 October 2010. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Figure 23. Vesuvius and the near municipalities, Landsat-5, 26 June 2010, RGB 431. Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 24. Vesuvius and the near municipalities, Landsat-5, 26 June 2010, RGB 742. Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Figure 25. Vesuvius and the near municipalities, with a focus on the south-east side, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 16 June 2009 (natural colours). Source: ESA-ESRIN.

Figure 26. Vesuvius and the near municipalities, with a focus on the south-east side, AVNIR-2, ALOS, 16 June 2009 (false colours). Source: ESA-ESRIN. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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This image confirms the high risk for civil protection procedures and shows where vegetation leaves the soil to old and recent lava flows (better distinguishable in colours than in the previous RGB 321 and 431 visualizations) on the top of the volcanic cone. With the images acquired by the AVNIR-2 instrument of the ALOS satellite on 16 June 2009 and visualized in natural and false colours (Figures 25 and 26), respectively, the above details appear even more dramatic: an impressive number of people would need to be evacuated in the case of an eruption, which is potentially statistically closer and closer!

6. 7.


Acknowledgements Even if the paper was devised together by the authors, M. Fea wrote paragraphs 1, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 8.1, 9.1; L. Giacomelli and R. Scandone wrote paragraphs 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9; C. Pesaresi wrote paragraphs 2, 3.

References 1. Alberico I., Caiazzo S., Dal Piaz S., Lirer L., Petrosino P. and Scandone R., “Volcanic risk and evolution of the territorial system in the active volcanic areas of Campania”, EGU - 1st General Assembly (Nice, 25-30 April 2004), 2004, pp. 9. 2. Alberico I., Lirer L., Petrosino P. and Scandone R., “A methodology for the evaluation of long-term volcanic risk from pyroclastic flows in Campi Flegrei (Italy)”, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 116, 2002, pp. 63-78. 3. Alberico I., Petrosino P. and Lirer L., “Volcanic hazard and risk assessment in a multi-source volcanic area: the example of Napoli city (Southern Italy)”, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 11, 2011, pp. 1057-1070. 4. Bellucci Sessa E., Buononato S., Di Vito M. and Vilardo G., “Caldera dei Campi Flegrei: potenzialità di un SIT per valutazioni di pericolosità vulcanica”, Proceedings of 12th National Conference ASITA (L’Aquila, 2124 October 2008), 2008, pp. 353-358. 5. Bignante E., Geografia e ricerca visuale. Copyright© Nuova Cultura


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